Competitive Fellowships and Grants:
Questions and Answers with Al Green,
Dean of Studies and Student Life
Competitive Fellowships and Grants: Questions and Answers with Al Green, Dean of Studies and Student Life
Q: What are competitive fellowships & grants?
A: Competitive fellowships and grants come in all shapes and sizes. In some cases, fellowships and grants can help students pay for their undergraduate education or for graduate school. In other cases, they offer unique opportunities to conduct research or initiate a project in the United States or abroad. There are yet others that enable an individual to work in different parts of the world or follow a passion. Many fellowships and grants are merit-based with special attention to financial need. Others expect to see leadership activities both on and off campus. Overall, competitive fellowships and grants help students pursue their goals.
Q: Are all students eligible for competitive fellowships?
A: It depends. Some fellowships require that the College be invited to participate and students be nominated by the College. For others, certain criteria must be met such as being a junior at the time of application, being a U.S. citizen, or being able to demonstrate a concentration in a particular discipline. All interested students are strongly encouraged to research a fellowship well before beginning the application process.
Q: How might students go about researching available fellowships?
A: The dean of studies office maintains a competitive fellowships and grants booklet which is available to all students. This office also offers information sessions and workshops throughout the academic year and meets individually with students to discuss their goals and interests. Students should take advantage of these services and also do research on their own by talking to their faculty, searching the Web, and consulting with peers.
Q: Why should students consider applying for competitive fellowships?
A: Applying for a competitive fellowship does more than help students find a financial way to fulfill their goals. Identifying and working on an application also encourages self-reflection, assessment of long-term goals, and articulation of personal and professional achievements.
Q: Are students on financial aid the only ones eligible to apply?
A: While some fellowships and grants require proof of financial need, there are also many that do not.
Q: When is the best time for students to begin thinking about competitive fellowships and grants? My student is a first-year. Is it too early for her/him to be thinking about fellowships?
A: It is never too early for students to begin thinking about and researching competitive fellowships and grants. In the first-year, students should start thinking about their academic interests and talk to their dons about a program that could help lead to applying for fellowships like the Fulbright or Beinecke. In the sophomore year, students should become more active on- and off-campus in ways that are truly meaningful to them and demonstrate leadership. In this year, they should also let faculty know of their fellowship aspirations. Many fellowships and grants are applied for in the junior and senior year and a foundation laid earlier will make their application process that much smoother.
Q: Who should students work with on their applications?
A: Students should work with the campus liaison listed with the fellowship. Typically, the campus liaison will be someone in the dean of studies office. Other important resources are faculty who both know the student well and have some knowledge of the student’s field of interest.
Q: Since SLC does not emphasize grades, how can my student be competitive?
A: Sarah Lawrence students are not at a disadvantage because our pedagogy emphasizes evaluations over grades. In fact, students often have a clearer picture of their strengths and successes due to these evaluations.
Q: How do students decide if they are competitive for a fellowship or scholarship?
A: While SLC does not emphasize grades, students do receive them and fellowships and grants, more often than not, list the minimum GPA required to be competitive. Students should be aware of their GPA, research the fellowship thoroughly, and assess their ability to write an application that is effective.
Al Green , Dean of Studies and Student Life firstname.lastname@example.org