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Applying for nationally-competitive fellowships takes more time and effort than most people realize – it’s much like taking a one-credit course on top of your already-busy schedule. But there are real benefits to applying, even beyond the possibility of getting the money, professional development, and prestige of the award.  The process of applying itself offers a powerful chance to reflect on your life path, clarify your goals, and better understand yourself.

In fact, in a survey we conducted in November 2013, 90 percent of our applicants reported that they “have a clearer vision for their future … and a clearer, more concrete plan for what [they] need to do to achieve [their] goals” after applying for a prestigious fellowship with our ofice.

Read on to understand what makes a strong candidate and to learn more about what’s involved in the actual process of applying, including lots of suggestions for writing those all-important application essays.