Words of wisdom
Writing is making sense of your life.
-Nadine Gordimer, South African novelist
There is no great writing, only great rewriting.
- Justice Louis Brandeis
We are all apprentices in a craft where no-one ever becomes a master!
- Ernest Hemingway, American novelist
Writing the Essays
Together with your transcript, letters of reference, and list of activities, your personal essay and/or proposal of study carry the most weight in the evaluation process. There are no magic solutions to writing these essays, and each fellowship program asks for particular kinds of proposals. Fulbright wants to hear about your wish to do research abroad, while Truman wants to hear about your dedication to public service and your plans to serve the greater good. Dedicating time to the writing of these essays is very important, as well as actively seeking feedback and critique from trusted readers (including your faculty). Plan to write multiple drafts and schedule meetings with your professors and advisors to get critical feedback, as well as editorial input. Proposals are not writing samples, nor are they typical of "college essays" or research papers. In writing, you need to persuade people who don't know you that you are committed to your ideas, passionate about the learning ahead, and that your project plans are feasible and specific. And no matter how unique or quirky your topic, be sure to follow the rules of good writing, and invest in a good style manual (i.e. Elements of Style).
In consulting on your essays and getting feedback, remain very receptive to the critiques you receive. It may not always be fun to hear how much more work your essay needs, but you will learn a lot in the process, and you may end up with a winning proposal.
If possible, try to get a draft to Meredith Monaghan, the Director of Fellowships, or a faculty mentor LONG before the internal due date. Give your readers plenty of time to read your work before you are scheduled to meet.
Useful Resources in Writing Essays:
Writing a Proposal and Personal Statement