One thing that you may always have guessed but never quite had the time to apprise yourself of is that there is a wealth of funding available through many channels at Harvard to help you pursue your goals. You also have access to House Fellowships & Funding Advisers -- Danny Lage & Rachel Lipson -- who are here to help you apply for funding to support research, service, travel, internships, study, and the arts. These can take place during the summer, during the school year, or after graduation.
The House Fellowships & Funding Advisers can:
❖ provide and facilitate your access to relevant information, and
❖ offer advice on your applications (i.e., how to write personal statements, how to ask for recommendations, how to practice for a fellowship interview, and so on).
To get in touch:
❖ Email is the best way to communicate with for simple questions. Responses should come between 24 and 48 hours of receiving your message. If it has been more than 48 hours without a response, it may be that your message as been missed, so please send a reminder -- it's appreciated! You can reach Danny at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Rachel at email@example.com.
❖ In some cases, it is useful to talk about fellowship opportunities or a specific application in person. Send an email to ask for a meeting!
And in all cases, it is to your benefit to do a bit of research before our meeting regarding the particular fellowships -- or at the very least, fields of study, service, or activity that you are interested in -- before we meet. To that effect, explore the OCS Resouces page, and make note of these extremely useful websites:
❖ I'm also happy to speak informally at meals in the dining hall or when we run into each other at other Winthrop events. Feel free to introduce yourself!
While there are some exceptions, most applications for funding require:
❖ a personal statement (demonstrating who you are and why the award would be good for you in a persuasive document that can engage the fellowship committee's attention; basic guides: "show, don't tell" and avoid a chronological academic biography or a narrative version of your resume); excellent general advice can be found on the second half of this page
❖ one or more letters of recommendation (at least one should be academic in nature from an instructor at Harvard; you should choose the people that know you best and will write the strongest on your behalf)
❖ your official transcript (a strong GPA is often helpful, but your application can be strong in other ways instead) or an unofficial grade report from the Registrar
❖ a resume (giving a clear summary of the activities that you have been involved with and any leadership roles you have undertaken)
Timing and Your Chances of Success
❖ All of the requirements for an application take time to prepare. For instance, an official transcript will take at least three days to obtain from the Registrar's office. Letters of recommendation can take up to a month or more (try to ask your recommender at least three weeks before your deadline). As for the personal statement, you could theoretically write one overnight, but these versions are rarely successful. A persuasive personal statement takes many hours of thought and several drafts to prepare, so you need to start early. In addition, if you are applying for funding to take an unpaid international internship, some fellowships require that you have an offer letter at the time of application, and such a letter can take weeks or months to arrange.
❖ You should also spend plenty of time thinking about your goals. The best applications come from people who know what they hope to do and find a fellowship that wants to support someone pursuing that exact project. If there isn't an exact fit between the fellowship and your goals, you need to emphasize whatever connection exists. In general, fellowship committees want to learn about you and how your past experiences and education prepares you for this fellowship opportunity. They also want to know what you hope to accomplish, both now and in the future, and how the fellowship will facilitate those ambitions.
❖ Chances of success vary depending on how many people are applying, and you should apply to every fellowship that could support your goals in order to maximize your chances. Even if you don't ultimately succeed in your applications, the process of self-reflection and the materials that you have prepared can be beneficial in other contexts.