Writing Essay For Fulbright Scholarship

By Guest Author Sean O’Connor

Every year the Fulbright Program enables 8,000 people to travel abroad to study, research and teach. Fulbright fellowships fund individuals, not projects. As a program of the United States Department of State, the fellowships are a diplomatic tool.  When deciding on applicants, Fulbright chooses people who they believe will be effective cultural ambassadors.

The Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) is an opportunity to spend one year abroad working in a kindergarten to university-level classroom supporting English language learning for non-native English-speakers. These fellowships are not just any job – English Teaching Assistants are expected to represent the United States. 

Every applicant must submit a personal statement, which outlines their qualifications and why they feel qualified to apply for a fellowship. Too often I see people fumble on this step of the application. The personal essay is your chance to show the application committee why you are the best candidate for a specific project in a specific country at this specific time. 

Every sentence in your personal statement should reaffirm the fact that you are the best choice for the fellowship. It has to seem like the universe has conspired for your entire life to build to this moment. This means that you have to support your applications with examples of how you have spent years preparing for your proposed project.

If you’ve only recently thought of applying for the Fulbright, this doesn’t mean that you should lie. The application committees will see through that. You have to look back on your life and connect the dots forward. Craft a compelling narrative that shows how qualified you are. Make it obvious that the Fulbright fellowship is the next logical step for you.

When I applied for my Fulbright ETA to Sri Lanka, I reached back to my days in Boy Scouts to talk about how I hoped to find a Troop in Sri Lanka to work with as a side project. I used my experiences consulting on fair trade businesses in Kenya to talk about my desire to work on economic development issues in Sri Lanka. I also used my experience tutoring English while studying abroad in China as an example of my teaching skills. I talked about the Fulbright as a way to set myself in corporate America, and how I view business as a way of creating positive social change.

My essay took me weeks to write, but after extensive revisions I had an essay which weaved together a lifetime of experiences that supported my grant application.

To make your application as strong as possible be sure that every sentence reaffirms why you are the best fit for this project and country. Craft your narrative to show the application committee that you’re not applying for this grant on a whim; you’re applying as a result of applicable life experiences. Talk to former fellows from the host country to see what tips they can provide you about the feasibility of your project and other ways to strengthen your proposal. Keep tweaking your essay until it conveys who you are and why you’re extraordinary.

Sean O’Connor graduated from Fordham University in 2012. He received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Sri Lanka, where he worked in the Eastern province of Trincomalee. He just finished an internship with Seth Godin and is looking for opportunities in the startup community.

Thinking of applying for a Fulbright? Check out all of our Fulbright articles.

Also, sign up to browse ProFellow’s free database of more than 800 funded fellowship opportunities, including hundreds of funding opportunities for research, study and teaching abroad.

© Victoria Johnson 2013, all rights reserved

Sample Personal Statement for Fulbright Scholarship

Posted by Talha Omer on January 16, 2014 in Personal Statement | 67 comments

Personal statement’s are written and edited by Tim Cleary, the head of the admissions team at BrightLink Prep. He can be reached at info@brightlinkprep.com.


Read our Disclaimer

Over the past year or so I have been getting a lot of requests from students in Pakistan regarding sharing a sample personal statement for the Fulbright scholarship.

This sample Fulbright personal statement has been shared with me by an anonymous but successful Fulbright applicant who has allowed me to share her personal statement on this blog. It can be used as an example to give you an idea of how to write and structure your own personal statement for the Fulbright program in Pakistan.

If you feel you need a little extra help, you can always contact me to check if I can help but please DO NOT copy chunks from this statement of purpose, or plagiarize them directly. You will not only lose your chance of getting the Fulbright scholarship but it is also unfair to copy someone’s original work. Simply use this to as a reference guide for writing your own authentic personal statement.

Before you go on to read this sample personal statement for Fulbright scholarship, let’s do a little exercise to warm you up for writing your own statement of purpose.

So here it goes: Which of the following sounds more appealing?

I went down the building to the cafeteria, which looked good, and bought a burger that I ate.


I strolled down the building as the cafeteria fragrances wafted through the air. I then bought the best chicken burger I have ever tasted.

Of course you would say that the second one is better. This is so because it is more descriptive and creates a more vivid and inspiring picture in your mind. But at the same time it requires the right set of words to describe the situation which is slightly more challenging.

So a word of advice – just write more descriptively so that its all the more exciting to read!

Some examples:

BORING: I performed in my first GRE exam today.
EXCITING: I blew the GRE test away in my first attempt.

BORING: I ran an antivirus, and got the computer to work
EXCITING: Ignoring risks and malfunctions, I did a complete antivirus run on my new computer.

Just know that you all have remarkable stories to share – you just need to dare to be more descriptive!

Click here to view the sample personal statement for the successful Fulbright Scholar in Finance!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *