As you consider applying for a national fellowship or scholarship opportunity two important skills to have are time-management and ambition. As you venture through the application process this experience can take up to a year of advanced planning and preparation. Keeping track of deadlines and timelines is always important as you go through this process.
At Colby College we have 14 fellowships where there is a faculty advisor and for which you may need to be nominated or endorsed by the college as an applicant. You can learn more about each of these opportunities along with the faculty advisor’s name and contact information under “Colby Fellowships & Scholarships.” As an applicant for any of these opportunities you will be working closely with the individual faculty advisor. Your fellowship faculty advisor will help you navigate the process to obtain, if needed, an institutional endorsement from the Dean of Faculty’s office.
Outside of the fellowships that have a Colby advisor there are a plethora of other fellowship and scholarship opportunities both for U.S. citizens and international students. You will find two PDF documents for these other opportunities under the “Other Fellowship/Scholarship Opportunities” along with web links to learn more about the opportunity and application process.
The selection process for fellowships often happens during the winter term which means the planning and preparatory process takes place the spring and summer prior to your application submission date. Some of the submission dates are early in the fall semester therefore, requiring some of the preparation to occur during the summer.
Outside of the application deadlines there are two important aspects to keep in mind. First, be cognizant that those aiding and mentoring you through this process, advisors, faculty, parents, and friends all have busy schedules; it is important to maintain continuous and courteous contact with them, especially those who are writing recommendation letters. Second, be sure to give yourself ample time to write and provide continuous edits to your materials and prepare for your interview(s). This is a very time consuming process that will happen over several months — your time-management skills and ambition will be essential through the entire process.
Knowing the US, UK and EU Systems
As you explore various fellowship and scholarship opportunities you will notice there are opportunities for graduate study and/or research in locations all around the world. It is imperative that you understand the system in which you are working and the differences in the organizational structure. Below are helpful hints on the areas of differences within the systems. This information will be helpful and guide you through the process of understanding the key differences in educational systems.
- DIFFERENCES IN ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURES:
When applying for admission to many UK institutions, like Oxford, you are accepted into the University, by the college of choice, and by the faculty. In US institutions there is a single, centralized admission process for undergraduate applicants, but the graduate school admission process may also be by the faculty in the program of choice. It is also common for many UK institutions, at both undergraduate and graduate levels, for there to be fellowship opportunities tied with individual academic programs. In the US some institutions adopt a similar process but it may not be as streamlined as the UK system. Last, the UK and EU systems use similar structural models in their institutions of higher education whereas in the US system there are a variety of models including state, public, private, nonprofit/for-profit, faith-based/nondenominational, liberal arts, teacher training, vocational, and four year or two year institutions.
- DIFFERENCES IN PEDAGOGY:
The primary differences in pedagogy in the three systems are the tutorial system of teaching. For example, in the US system it is common to sit in large lecture halls and have courses with 20+ students whereas in the UK system it is more common to have one-on-one meetings with tutors. The UK system is also highly research focused with far less time spent completing exams. As with everything else, the pedagogy is not the same within every institution in each of these systems, much of the UK system does follow the methods still used by Oxford and Cambridge but not in all cases. The UK system, for example, differentiates between a “taught” masters and a “research masters.”
- DIFFERENCES IN TIMEFRAME AND DEGREES AWARDED:
Within each of the systems there is an evident difference in the timeframe in which people complete their degrees. In the US it can take 1-3 years to earn a master’s degree or seven to eleven years to earn a doctorate whereas in the UK system one year master’s programs are most common and completion of a doctoral degree can be accomplished in as little as three years. The “letters” or degree titles associated with earned degrees are often unique to the field and may differ by country: MFA, MDiv, MEd, MA, MLIS, MST, Doctor of Arts, Doctor of Philosophy, Juris Doctor, Doctor of Engineering, etc.
- DIFFERENCES IN FUNDING:
In the US system funding often includes full scholarships and/or research assistant/teaching assistant positions to defray the cost of education. In the UK system, there is a program called Overseas Research Scheme (ORS) (http://www.orsac.ac.uk/) that funds opportunities available for international graduate students. US students may also be able to apply for federal students loans for study abroad (this is common for the UK). Other funding resources include the British Council: http://www.britishcouncil.org/new/ and http://www.britishcouncil.org/usa.htm