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29.7.01

I'm working on figuring out this postgrad fellowship stuff again today. But it's not going so well, because I'm not even sure if I should be doing this.

First off, I feel like I have too little time and not enough direction. I'm still in a very exploratory stage, which I should have finished in the first half of the summer at the latest. My problem, of course, is that I didn't start even considering fellowships until Christine, being a Fullbright winner and convinced, for reasons that defy all obvious facts, that I'm smarter than her, badgered me into it.

I'll probably wind up doing a second geography degree if I go on one of the British Isles university fellowships (Marshall, Mitchell, Schupf). It's the only thing I'm really prepared for (much as I would like to take, for example, geology or philosophy to broaden my horizons, I don't have any credentials there whatsoever), and it's much easier to justify, given the strength of the discipline in Europe as opposed to America. But I'm still poking around at other things. Today I saw that Oxford offers a joint modern history and politics degree, and my immediate reaction was "ooh, that would be really neat to learn about" -- never mind that I have no qualifications beyond a 100-level Australian History course in Wollongong and my commentaries for The Maroon-News. The number of universities to consider is huge, and I don't know the first thing about how they stack up beyond that Oxford and Cambridge are considered the top two unis in the English-speaking world. And that fact means I shouldn't bother seriously considering them. Because, to be honest, I don't have fellowship-calibre credentials. My GPA is good, but it's not a 4.0, I'm active on campus, but I'm not the leader (and certainly not the founder) of any organizations. I haven't pioneered any initiatives or made any mark that will remain visible on campus after this May. So it seems like maybe I should cut my losses and do a good job of looking at US grad schools (which I haven't even started thinking about), since I have a good shot at getting into one of those.

And I wonder if I'm going about this all wrong. I seem to be taking a very selfish (though I'm sure completely typical) tack on this -- "I want a fellowship, so what kind of program can I come up with to win me one?" It seems like a better approach would be more along the lines of "I have this idea for a project, how can I get the resources to do it?" I think too much of what I do is motivated by a desire to prove that I'm better than I really am. And although the selection committe doubtless does a pretty good job of deciding what the best projects are, I have this worry that I could win with an inferior project by virtue of talking it up so that it sounds better than it really is. I have a real history of completely revising (and scaling down) projects after the design has been approved, from my Eagle Scout project to my research this summer.

I even have issues with whingeing about it like this -- I know I'm profoundly lucky just to have the leisure to seriously consider applying for a fellowship. I'm sure anyone who isn't thoroughly blogged out after the thon and is reading this is probably shaking their head in disgust.

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