How often do Fulbright alternates become Fulbright scholars?
March 31, 2008 10:59 PM   Subscribe

How often do Fulbright alternates become Fulbright scholars?

I just got my letter from the IIE saying that I've been "selected" as an alternate. It's an honor just to make it this far, etc - but I'm a little bit heartbroken. How often do Fulbright alternates actually get the opportunity to do their thing? Statistics, anecdotes... anything would be just fine by me right now. My target country is the Netherlands and I'm a Master's student in sociology, if any of that is relevant.
posted by McBearclaw to Education (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
A guy at my law school was an alternate and then did indeed wind up going to the country of his choice to do research - so that's at least one person who went from Fulbright alternate to scholar. Good luck!
posted by that possible maker of pork sausages at 12:55 AM on April 1, 2008

I know two people who went from alternates to getting spots. I think it happens a lot, because most people applying for Fulbrights are also applying for other grants, and they will choose the one with the most money, best reputation, and so on, which may not be the Fulbright. Plus, people get sick, have family crises, and other things that make them refuse the grant.

So while I wouldn't count on it, you definitely do have a chance. Make other plans, and let the Fulbright be a happy surprise if it comes through at the last minute. (For one person I know, the change from alternate to selected came very late, just before people were to leave; the story was that someone had gotten sick, and all the other alternates had already made other plans, so my friend who was at the bottom of the alternate list got the grant.)
posted by Forktine at 6:14 AM on April 1, 2008

As I understand it, it's not that there are X number of slots, its that there is $Y of money, at least on the country or region level. So if someone rejects an offer to go to one of the places with the highest dollar amount attached to it, potentially even two alternates going to cheaper places could be offered awards.

So wait and see how it shakes out. I've heard of several examples of alternates ultimately being awarded Fulbrights.
posted by umbú at 6:59 AM on April 1, 2008

Oops. I mean "it's that there."
posted by umbú at 7:01 AM on April 1, 2008

i know someone who was an alternate and then ended up getting a spot, kind-of—they didn't have enough money to fund her full tuition, so she ended up having to TA at the university (in the us) she was sent to, but they did pay for all the travel and arranged her visa and that of her husband.
posted by lia at 12:25 PM on April 1, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. This is exactly what makes Ask MeFi so great. I could have spent hours last night trolling the Internet to scrape up every little anecdote I could get. Instead, I got a good night's sleep and a bunch of great comments, and I feel halfway decent today.

You rock.
posted by McBearclaw at 12:42 PM on April 1, 2008

A good friend of mine got her Fullbright alternate letter last year; she was pretty down but it was totally expected, hard to get into, etc. Then, it was close to graduation (maybe end of April), and she was taken in.

I don't think she was ever clear about the reason why it happened, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone flaked or maybe got offered some really really really great job/opportunity that would be better than a Fulbright. Since you are dealing with the best and brightest here, it only makes sense that someone else may want to snatch them up.
posted by BenzeneChile at 1:00 PM on April 1, 2008

Response by poster: "Since you are dealing with the best and brightest here, it only makes sense that someone else may want to snatch them up."

Ha. I hope so. That would be the first time in my life that being in the second-tier has actually worked to my advantage.
posted by McBearclaw at 3:02 PM on April 1, 2008

Hi. Anyone ever heard of getting a Fulbright after being a finalist but not selected as an alternate? :/ im hoping the alternates deny and then maybe maybe ill get to go.. although its already august.. :/ oh well....
posted by StPierre at 7:09 PM on August 27, 2008

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