2016 Rhodes Scholar Debi Ogunrinde gives five reasons to apply for a fellowship!
Top 5 reasons why YOU should apply for a fellowship
1. Applying is not as hard as it seems!
At first glance, the various fellowships CURF advertises - each with unique essay prompts, word limits, and application requirements - can make your head spin, but don't let that deter you. The first step is to determine which opportunities you are eligible for, find the ones that best suit your goals, and plan your applications. CURF is happy to help each step of the way. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to write, think, and edit and to gather the references that you need. Beyond that, all you have to do is communicate what it is you already have done and who you are - most of that work is behind you!
2. The application process itself is rewarding.
It can seem daunting to capture who you are, what has shaped you, and what you want to achieve, but setting aside time to reflect and consolidate your thoughts can help you clarify further what matters to you. The more time that you spend thinking about your goals and building a case for yourself, the easier it will be to identify opportunities that are a good fit for you and secure them later on, be it through the fellowship you're applying for or later job and graduate school applications.
3. Fellowships are incredible opportunities for research, further education, and travel.
Many fellowships advertised through CURF include “hidden benefits.” Some are hefty scholarships, and others are accompanied formally or informally by strong communities and mentorship. Often they'll enable you to spend time in foreign countries you never otherwise would have had the funds or infrastructure to learn and work in. They tend to complement a Penn education well because they are rich and multi-faceted, and often help you to refine your future ambitious and take steps to get there.
4. You're a better candidate than you think!
Rarely do the winners of major fellowships anticipate that they'll win - it often seems too good to be true. The truth is, normal students win fellowships, and no perfect candidate exists. You don't need a flawless academic record and CV. As a Penn student, you're likely incredibly well rounded, passionate about your field, and determined. You have what it takes! Seek guidance from CURF about the best opportunities for your particular field and aspirations, but don't rule yourself out prematurely.
5. You'll be prepared for next time.
Having references on hand, and your CV and statement completed puts you in great shape if you apply for the same or other fellowships, jobs, or degree programs. Moreover, having met other applicants, completed practice or actual interviews, and experienced the process once before is invaluable preparation! Many fellowship winners were rejected from that same fellowship previously as well as others, so do not be discouraged.
Debi is a 2016 Rhodes Scholar and studied anthropology and public policy at Oxford. She debated for the Oxford Union and debated avidly for Penn Parliamentary Debate as a student there. She graduated from the Huntsman Program and studied abroad in Lyon.
The views expressed in contributed blog posts belong solely to the indicated author and do not necessarily respresent those of the Center for Undergraduate Research & Fellowships or those of the University of Pennsylvania.