Things to Know About the Fulbright Pakistan 2014 2015
The Fulbright Scholarship Program in Pakistan is operated by the United States Education Foundation of Pakistan (USEFP). It is a highly competitive program that provides merit-based grants to a range of Pakistani applicants; students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists, artists and many more. Under the Fulbright program, competitively selected Pakistani citizens may become eligible for scholarships to study, conduct research, or exercise their talents in the US. For Pakistan students, Fulbright scholarship is unarguably the most prestigious scholarship program for students targeting US universities. Fulbright scholars are expected to share information about Pakistani society and culture with students, colleagues and community groups in US. On their return to Pakistan, Fulbright scholars are expected to make a significant contribution to Pakistan’s societal & economic development and share their experiences in US.
In 2013, a total of 1,311 Pakistani’s applied for the Fulbright program starting in Fall 2014. Over 300 applicants were shortlisted for interviews and the number of successful applicants was over 200. This year, that is 2014 this number is expected to grow and the competition will be even stronger. Those who will apply in 2014 will then leave for the US in fall of 2015 for the Fulbright scholarship program. Pakistani applicants aspiring to apply this year MUST be aware of the following facts before applying.
All successful candidates in Pakistan are required to enter into a contractual agreement with the USEFP that restricts them to leave US immediately after the completion of their studies. Ideally USEFP wants Pakistan “Fulbrighters” to serve in Pakistan after completing their studies in the US but a Fulbright scholar may work or study in any other country except US if they want to.
An applicant may return to US to work or study after their tenure under the contract ends – the tenure is for a minimum of two years in case the time the applicant spent in the US was at most 2 years. If the duration of stay in the US was more than 2 years under the Fulbright scholarship then the applicant has to spend the equivalent number of years outside of US. So for example you spent 2 years and 8 months under the Fulbright program in the US then you will have to spend the same amount of time outside US after your Fulbright ends.
Please note that a Fulbright scholar may visit US on a visit visa if they wish to do so but they cannot work, study or live there. In case you get married to a US citizen after you received your Fulbright and before your contractual period ends, you will still have to abide by the contract. You may return to US after your contract ends. If you violate the conditions in the USEFP bond then you will be legally liable for the cost of your scholarship program in the U.S. on a year-for-year basis.
Things You Need to Prepare Before Applying
Because of the limited number of grants, the Fulbright application is a stringent and rigorous process. Therefore, you should begin planning as early as 1.5 to 2 years before you intend to go to the US in order to have ample time to effectively prepare for all the pre-requisites of your Fulbright application.
Let me explain why: For example if you plan to leave for US under the Fulbright program in the Fall (August) of 2015 then you must start preparing your prerequisites in December 2013. The reason is that the deadline for Fall 2015 program will be May 2014. By May 2014 you must have submitted all of your documents including the GRE test scores. To prepare for the GRE exam it may take you from anywhere between 2-4 months depending on what kind of a student you are. Moreover writing your personal statement for Fulbright will consume another month of your routine. Therefore make sure you plan yourself really early.
Field of Study
Before you apply check if your field of interest is eligible under the Fulbright Scholarship program for Pakistan 2014 & 2015.
The study or the research objective is an essential and extremely important part of your Fulbright application in Pakistan. Many students in Pakistan do not lay much emphasis on it and write their objective statement in only a few days. However great effort should be made while writing a clear and detailed description of the program you want to pursue. A research or study statement must clearly describe what it is that you want to achieve and how you plan on achieving it. You are not allowed to write more than one page on this and therefore you should not be eager to cram in all the information – instead focus on the most crucial and relevant parts of your professional and academic events.
The second essay part compulsory for the Fulbright Scholarship is the personal statement. A personal statement is a narrative essay that explains what is special and distinctive about you. It should include those details of your life that vividly show how you got interested into your particular field. It must show what got you motivated to apply for higher education in the US and your short term and long term objectives upon returning to Pakistan. Your personal statement is as significant as the research and study objectives – you must make sure that you spend ample time and rigorous thinking into preparing it.
Letter of Recommendation or Reference
You must have three letters of references submitted by professors and/or your managers/supervisors directly to the USEFP. All letters must be written by teachers under whom you have studied, or pursued research (preferably a PHD). In case you have work experience you can also include a letter by your supervisor. However you must have at least one academic letter of reference. In short you cannot provide all 3 references from your supervisor’s. Moreover your friends or relatives cannot write you reference letters.
My advice is that take some time to be in good books of your teachers and supervisors so that you don’t have to run after them once the Fulbright approaches!
The most important and also the most challenging standardised test required by the USEFP is the GRE test. USEFP has made it mandatory for all Fulbright applicants to take the GRE – even those in business and law. It is recommended that you take GRE before applying to Fulbright in order to devote full concentration on other parts of your application.
TOEFL is a language test required after applicants have been shortlisted for the interview. All shortlisted applicants must take the TOEFL within two weeks of being notified for the interview.
GRE subject tests are required for certain fields, mostly PhD’s or by top ranked Master’s programs. But you only need to take the GRE subject test after you have been selected for Fulbright scholarship and in case your program requires you to. Similarly GMAT is required for applicants proposing to study in Business schools in case they are selected for Fulbright scholarship in that field.
I would personally recommended that you strictly adhere to the above instructions while applying for Fulbright and give yourself maximum possible time in order to prepare a successful application. Last year in 2013, the intake rate was 20% i.e. 1 in every 5 students got selected. So the chances are pretty high and you should not miss this opportunity at any cost. Good Luck!