Earlier this week students in my globalization course wrote draft statement of purpose essays for Fulbright grant applications. This exercise hit several objectives:
- The writing task was authentic. Even though the vast majority of the class will probably never actually seek to be a post-graduation Fulbright award recipient, almost all of them write application essays for scholarships. Scholarship application essays have a nearly identical audience and purpose.
- The exercise reinforced for students the idea that they can actively experience other parts of the world — instead of just reading about it — and will almost certainly benefit from doing so. In this I was assisted by the assistant director of our office of international programs. She visited the class to give a 15-minute overview of the Fulbright program and to provide an example of a recent alumna who just received a Fulbright award to do work in Colombia.
- Students were incredibly engaged. For thirty minutes I heard nothing but the clicking of keys as students wrote furiously on their laptops. The resulting drafts demonstrated that students took the work seriously, perhaps because they were writing about their own interests and potential futures.
- Grading was easy because I explicitly defined the essay as a first draft and employed my own version of specifications grading with the two-criteria rubric shown below.
Here are the instructions for the exercise:
This assignment is designed give you a head start on applying for a post-graduation Fulbright grant.
- Go to http://us.fulbrightonline.org/countries/regions. Choose a country of interest that has either Study/Research or English Teaching Assistant grants.
- Go to http://us.fulbrightonline.org/applicants/application-components. Depending on the grant opportunities in your country of interest, click on either of the Study/Research links or the English Teaching Assistant link. Go to the application Click on “Statement of Purpose” and follow the directions.
- Submit your draft statement of purpose.
Here is the rubric: