If you’re interested in applying for Watson Fellowship nomination in September and we haven’t yet talked or emailed, June is a great time to connect!  I am in and out of the office during the summer, so my ability to respond to you may be faster or slower depending on when you contact me. See go/fellowships for how to best reach me during the summer.  Remember, you are only eligible for this fellowship as a senior/super-senior. All citizenship types are eligible and there is no GPA minimum. What matters is you, your passion and your project.

Middlebury can nominate four students for the Watson. To be considered for nomination, you must submit the following  by Tuesday, Sept. 12 at noon. No exceptions! Please read the instructions below carefully. (This is a new process, so there may be updates noted during the summer.)

  1.  To apply for nomination, email a pdf of the online Watson application (specifications noted below) to fellowships@middlebury.edu with the subject line “Watson nomination application” by Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at noon.  Please also complete the online Fellowships Permissions and Waiver form by this deadline. No late applications will be accepted.
  2. To access the Watson application for nomination consideration, please follow these instructions and complete to these specifications:
    1.  Contact fellowships@middlebury.edu with your full name and Middlebury email information and request access to the application. If you submitted a preliminary application on April 15, we will register you with the Watson application system. No further action is needed on your part. We expect the application to open in early June, so will register students after that happens. Update: the application is now open and students registered. If you have not been registered and want to be, please contact fellowships@middlebury.edu .
    2. Complete the application with the following exceptions:
      1.  do not add email addresses for your recommenders. We only want their names at this point. No recommendations are needed for nomination.
      2. compose an abbreviated personal statement and abbreviated project statement– no more than about 800 words for each section. If nominated, you will rewrite and expand these. You will not be enhancing your nomination chances if you exceed this limit.
      3. Include an unofficial academic transcript, printed from Banner Web (provide the chronological format, NOT the degree audit format. We do not need an official transcript for this. The advising transcript works well.)
  • We will invite a group of applicants to interview with Watson campus committee members later in September to choose our four nominees and one alternate.

Application Process and Timetable:
By June 30: Have read through carefully information on the Watson fellowship site—both at go/fellowships (click on Watson in list) and at http://watson.foundation/fellowships/tj .
By July 20 (recommended): Work on personal statement and project proposal drafts and send to me for feedback. Also share with other relevant people for feedback. Develop your list of in-country contacts relevant for your project and reach out to those contacts. We don’t expect everything to be solidified by Sept. 12 but being knowledgeable about contacts and having some contacts in place helps us understand the feasibility of your proposal. I will provide feedback on drafts after this date, however, I am out of the office during part of August and as we get closer to September, the application draft volume increases–hence the recommendation to get some feedback earlier!
Early September: Talk with those you would want to write letters of recommendation for you, just giving them a heads up. Note: letters are only needed IF you are nominated! But you do want to start the conversation with those you would ask.
By September 12 noon: Email your nomination materials to fellowships@middlebury.edu. See specifications above.  And yes, this is right after the start of classes. And yes, this is a hard deadline.
Late September: We will hold Watson interviews for a subset of applicants. Dates/times TBD.
Early November: Watson foundation application deadline–also a hard deadline.

Summer dates above are guidelines to help you organize the different parts of the application and get everything done so that you are ready to go by the September deadline. The campus nomination and foundation deadlines are hard deadlines. No exceptions.

A few important notes about the Watson:

  • Read through (and think through) the Watson website, especially the eligibility section.  There are lots of good questions for you to ask yourself and your project idea to see if this is a good fit.
  • Your application should really reflect YOU. This is not an academic fellowship. It’s about a deep, abiding personal interest you have and it’s also about you as a deeply curious, independent, courageous person. The Watson foundation is looking for fellows who are independent, imaginative, resourceful, responsible, bold, and self-motivated. Your project is just that—your project and should embody, reflect a passion you have. It does not have to be unique to you but definitely can be. It should grow organically from your life—things that you’ve done, explored, studied, wondered about, are inspired by—and should be personally significant to you. Watson priorities are person first, project second. It does not matter if this project is similar to something someone else did; what matters is that it’s the right project for you.
  • Selecting countries: you should be choosing places that are new to you (the stretch factor). You may have been inspired by a period of study abroad or travel in a certain place, but depending on the amount of time you spent there (more than 3 weeks typically), you should not include that country/area on your project list. (And often there are ways to adapt a particular interest to a different set of countries/areas). Also, some countries are of such a broad and diverse scale, you may be able to justify a visit to a different part of that country. China or Russia might fall into the latter category. The Netherlands would not.  For some of you, this is an area we may need to discuss further and think about how you might adapt your proposal. Any country on the US state department travel warning list or the US treasury department embargo list may not be included. We don’t expect you have figured out everything with respect to the feasibility of all components for the nomination process, but we do expect you’ve given serious consideration to different ideas and are prepared for some shifts in your plan. The list of countries ultimately may change between application for nomination, application for Watson, Watson interview  and departure, and actual fellowship year. Any country on the US state dept warning list may be listed provisionally in case it changes (and of course, countries may also shift in the other direction too).
  • Contacts abroad may take some time to identify and connect with, so definitely allow for that. What you want from them may differ according to your project, but they should provide a resource and a kind of grounding for you in the community/country/project focus. You may also be contributing to them as well—but make sure that your mission, your project is still your own.
  • Recommendations—if you are nominated, you will need 2-3. No recommendations needed for nomination. If two, both can be from Middlebury or one from Middlebury and one external. If three, one must be from Middlebury, one external.
  • Language ability: you will definitely propose going places where you do not speak the language—and you should. But do think about how you will conduct the work of the project in these spaces. Guides/interpreters may be essential in some cases.
  • In thinking about your personal statement and project proposal, you want to describe the following: Your plan for the 12-month fellowship year, including a description of your project and details about how you intend to carry it out. (In addition to focusing on a topic you are passionate about, the project should be personally challenging (yet feasible), independent, and sustainable over 12 months.) Discuss why you chose your topic, how it developed out of previous interests or experiences, and how it represents a new challenge. You may also want to describe your background, your college years, your professional goals and aspirations, and your reasons for seeking a Watson Fellowship.