Virginia Tech beats Fulbright admissions national average

Blacksburg, Va., April 11 – Fulbright Student Program: Virginia Tech’s Fulbright Program Advisor, Betty Anderson, held a series of Fulbright information sessions throughout the day on Thursday, April 11 in the Graduate Life Center.

by Rebecca Poutasse–

The Fulbright Student Program funds research, study, and teaching opportunities in 146 countries worldwide. According to the United States Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Program awards approximately 8,000 grants annually.

The program is known to be quite selective. According to ProFellow, the total award rate for the Fulbright United States Student Grant in the 2016-17 period was 20 percent. This means that one in five applications were accepted. Global Education Office’s Fulbright Program Advisor, Betty Anderson, said the average odds of receiving a Fulbright award remain about one in five. “But that number fluctuates widely from country to country, and depends on the type of award,” Anderson explained.

The two most common awards are for research and teaching English. Anderson said there tends to be more awards available for English teaching, as it is a necessity in many countries. Conversely, the research awards are often harder to come by. “Countries determine their own research priorities based on their budget,” Anderson said. “The more robust politically and economically a country is, the more awards they will give.”

The application process is centered around the potential host country. “You’re making the argument that what you want to do will be best accomplished in that specific country,” Anderson said. “The application process is not necessarily complicated, but it is intense because there are a lot of pieces that require a fair amount of time management.” Part of Anderson’s job as a Fulbright Program Advisor is to aid Virginia Tech students and alumni in their application process.

According to Anderson, Virginia Tech beat the Fulbright Student Program’s admissions national average of one in five this year. This year, 22 Virginia Tech students/alumni applied; twelve were named semi-finalists; seven were awarded the grant, and three were named as alternates.

Libby Ebeling, a senior at Virginia Tech double majoring in Public & Urban Affairs and Spanish will travel to Mexico as an English teaching assistant. Ebeling began the Fulbright application process during the spring semester of her junior year. “I’ve always wanted to go somewhere Spanish speaking after graduating because I really want to be fluent.”

Ebeling said she looked into other opportunities abroad, such as the Peace Corps, but eventually landed on the Fulbright Student Program because of its mission. “The point of the program is to be an ambassador for the United States when I’m in Mexico, and to be an ambassador for Mexico when I’m back in the United States,” Ebeling said. “I think that is a really interesting and important position to take on given the current political relationship between the United States and Mexico.”

Fulbright English teaching assistants are also required to take on a supplementary project on the side. Ebeling plans on working with the local government, artists, and non-profits to create a mural in her host community. She says she hopes the mural will serve a source of pride for the community.

As the seven Fulbright scholars get ready to embark on a journey of a lifetime, Virginia Tech celebrates their success.

Fulbright InfoGraphic

Click on the infographic to find the original version, or click here.


Application revamp brings VT closer to diversity goals

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Blacksburg, Va., March 1 – New Virginia Tech Application: Virginia Tech is now requiring applicant’s to apply through the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success application.


by Rebecca Poutasse–

This fall, Virginia Tech applicants filled out an entirely new application through the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success. As the name suggests, the Coalition’s goal is increasing college access for underrepresented and underserved students. Dannette Gomez-Beane, Director of Recruitment and Operations, explains how Virginia Tech Admissions can help remove barriers in the application process.

“There’s still systematic discrimination that occurs — education inequity, racial inequity, income disparity — that Virginia Tech Admissions does not have the power to change,” Gomez-Beane said. “But we can acknowledge those inequities, and understand that students face these systematic barriers.”

The Coalition application is designed to promote a more holistic review of applicants. Gomez-Beane said the application paints both a better and bigger picture of the students’ experiences and identities.

One way the application does this is through essays. According to the application directions, there are four, 120-word essays intended to “help students tell their story and talk about the strengths they bring.” Gomez-Beane explains that the essay questions are rooted in research, and the scoring is done by anonymous, outside readers to remove potential bias from the evaluation process. The applicant’s total essay score is called their “Ut Prosim Profile.”

“The scoring rubric has been proved to correlate with degree completion, so we are able to say ‘if the student gets this score, the likelihood of them completely a degree at Virginia Tech is actually really high’,” Gomez-Beane said.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Blacksburg, Va., March 1 – Virginia Tech Admissions: Dannette Gomez-Beane is Virginia Tech’s Director of Recruitment and Operations.

She explained that the essays are used to tell a story beyond a student’s GPA and SAT/ACT scores. “We use that Ut Prosim score to put students we’re questioning over the top,” Gomex-Beane said. “It’s never used to hurt them.”

According to ACT Research and Policy, in 2016 the average ACT score was 23.6 for higher income students and 19.5 for lower-income students. These disparities exist for a variety of reasons. Standardized tests are expensive. Wealthier students can often afford to take the test more than once, as well as resources such as tutoring and test preparation classes. On the contrary, low-income students often struggle to even afford the test.

When asked if the new application went far enough to remove barriers students face, Gomez-Beane shook her head. “These were major strides, but we can always do more,” she said.


Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Blacksburg, Va., February 27 – Virginia Tech Admissions: Alphonso Garrett is Virginia Tech’s Director of Undergraduate Diversity Recruitment Initiatives.