Guide to Fellowships

Perhaps this moral stand seems unreasonably strict. Remember, however, that "scrupulously honest" is an incredibly protean, subjective concept whose meaning is, happily, quite open to individual personal interpretation.

For example, if you assume that everyone else is lying on their fellowship applications, and you consider yourself to be as worthy of the fellowship as anyone else, then isn't lying yourself the truly honest thing to do? Under these conditions, wouldn't telling the truth actually give the fellowship committee an inaccurate, and therefore dishonest, perception of how you stack up against the other candidates?

In summary, when it comes to fellowships, let "he who is without sin cast the first stone."

The Interview

An interview before a fellowship committee can be an intimidating experience. Because there are usually several people interviewing you at once, your only hope is to decide instantly who you think is in charge and start answering all of that person's questions while blocking out everyone else--which is harder than it sounds because they can get really indignant about being ignored and start shouting at you.


You can be 90 percent certain that the person in charge of the committee is the one sitting right in the middle, but be warned: this person almost always has some sort of hideous scar or birthmark that is practically begging to be stared at.

If you begin to feel extremely nervous during the interview, one sure-fire way to relax is to imagine what everyone else there would look like dressed only in their underwear (if you start getting turned on, you are probably trying too hard).

Another tip for the interview is to make up a little jingle with your name in it beforehand--something simple, but catchy--and to work this ditty into your answers whenever possible. Long after they've forgotten about the man who isolated the enzyme that breaks down beef jerky and the woman who taught a band of endangered mountain gorillas how to ride horses and shoot rifles, they'll still be singing your name in the shower every day.


Most fellowships ask for recommendations from faculty members or other people who know you well. As these recommendations are often taken very seriously by the fellowship committees, it is advisable that you have them written by faculty members rather than by people who know you well.

V. After It's All Over

It is difficult to celebrate the winning of a fellowship, as there is no insignia merchandise to buy, and everyone else is far too jealous to throw you a party.

Nevertheless, there is something you can do to mark your achievement. Quietly and without pomp, in the wee hours of the night, boot up your computer and add the fellowship to your resume.