An accurate depiction of the fellowship competition process. Image from Pexels.

An accurate depiction of the fellowship competition process. Image from Pexels.

As your parents are probably fond of reminding you, money isn’t free–but with good grades, demonstrated leadership, extracurricular involvement, and the time to fill out an application/write an essay/pray, you might just win a prestigious fellowship. Hello, money and prestige.

What the Hellowship is a Fellowship?

According to the University of Rochester Fellowships Office, a fellowship is a merit-based award, given not by the school but by national or international competition. This is generally accompanied by more competition than a scholarship awarded by your school. According to Michigan State University, fellowships differ from scholarships in that they are awarded generally for graduate projects or studies, or for projects pursued outside of general undergraduate studies. (As this is TP, we’ll be focusing mostly on awards for undergrad study.) Most importantly for those of us who have sold all the kidneys that we care to, these are awards that don’t have to be paid back.

Humanity in Action Fellowship

Are you into social activism, spending your summer in a meaningful way, and Europe? Then this fellowship may be for you.

Open to sophomores through seniors in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Ukraine, and the United States, this fellowship pays for travel to Europe for participation in a month-long program exploring discimination in history. A sample of the 2015 curriculum in Amsterdam can be found here, including a day at the Anne Frank House, discussions of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, free time (in Amsterdam!), and report-writing.

Does that sound awesome or what? Fill out an application! Fellows are chosen based on leadership potential, academic achievement, and interest in human rights and minority issues. The deadline for submission for summer 2017 is January 7, 2016. Finalists will be notified in February, and winners will be notified by the end of March.

GRO Undergraduate Fellows

If you’re into saving the Earth, the EPA has a fellowship for you.

GRO (which technically stands for Greater Research Opportunities but is probably just a pun) provides up to $19,700 each academic year for junior and senior year, for an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in environmentally-related fields. With the fellowship also comes an internship (which pays $9,500) doing research with the EPA during the summer of your senior year.

Applicants must be sophomores, US citizens, pursuing a degree related to the environment, and must have at least a B average overall. More information is available here.

Josephine de Karman Fellowship

How does $14,000 sound?

The Josephine de Karman Fellowship awards roughly eight fellowships every year–$14,000 for undergrads, $22,000 for graduate students–for students who’ve shown exemplary academic achievement. The money is paid directly to your school. No required summer internship, no monthly seminar–just money. You don’t have to sell that kidney after all. You are required to write a letter explaining what this fellowship allowed you to do (“Dear Fellowship People, Thanks for letting me keep my kidney…” probably won’t cut it), but otherwise, very few strings…and very much money.

There is no stated year restriction on the website, so freshmen are welcome to apply. However, this is a competitive fellowship, and hundreds of students–many of them graduate students–apply every year. If you take a look at last year’s winners, none of them were undergrads. This isn’t to say that you should give up; it’s to say that you have to put your best foot forward if you want a shot.

The application–which includes two letters of recommendation and an official transcript–is due by January 31. Winners will be notified in April.

Talk to Your Fellowships Office/Career Center

This was just a slim selection of what fellowships have to offer you. They can be impressive learning experiences, or they can be just straight-up money, but in either case, they can be competitive. This isn’t the merit scholarship that everyone gets for having good grades. Money isn’t free, and neither are fellowships–you’ve got to work for them. Luckily, your Fellowships Office can help you identify which fellowships are a good match for you, and they can help you put together a sparkling application.


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the author

Gabrielle Scullard hails from suburban Arizona, where she is a senior at a public high school. She spends most of her life taking AP classes and crying about her future. When she is not stressing out about school, she plays viola (it’s like a violin but better) and signs in an American Sign Language choir (it’s like a vocal choir but better). She wants to be a superhero, but an internship at The Prospect is basically the same thing. She hopes her writing can help someone or, at least, make someone smile. You can find her on her Tumblr or at home, but she would prefer it if you didn't do either of those things.

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