Thursday, January 14, 2010

Responding to Fellowship Prompts Workshop January 2010

On Wednesday, January 26th, the Communications Center staff presented a "Responding to Fellowship Prompts" workshop specific to the Switzer Environmental Fellowship. A critical component of the Switzer application is a 2-3 page essay to provide the reviewers "insights into the personal motivations of the applicant as well as how his/her academic experience will be applied to environmental improvement." The essay is the opportunity to really show the reviewers who you are, what you are about, and why you deserve this fellowship (much more so than your resume, transcripts, and other application materials). The slides from the workshop are embedded below and a handout is available here.

The Switzer Foundation's requirements for a complete essay are rather numerous. There are 5 interrelated key topics that must be addressed explicitly, 6 qualifications that must be demonstrated in the essay but not necessarily addressed explicitly, and 6 additional qualifications that should be highlighted if they apply to you. The key to this essay is to cover all of the necessary criteria without being repetitive, long-winded, or incoherent. To avoid these pitfalls, we recommend the following strategy for mapping your response:
  • Copy the 5 key topics into your essay document
  • Brainstorm your experiences and qualifications for each topic
  • Use Switzer's "must demonstrate" and "highlight if applicable" qualifications as a checklist to make sure your brainstormed ideas hit on all the criteria
  • Organize your outline according to some theme (chronological order, type of experience, etc.)
Remember that your goal is to tell a natural story that will be compelling to the application reviewers and each vignette should have a purpose in demonstrating a qualification. Good luck applicants!
--Sara Solis

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