You can apply for an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship once as a rising senior before you enter a graduate program, and once during your first two years of graduate studies. This raises the question, “When should I apply?” The answer is easy for grad students entering their second year: apply NOW! And it's easy for rising seniors: apply now because you'll get another bite after you're admitted. It's more complicated [...]
There are many ways to stand out because many proposals are so bad. Just addressing the sponsors’ priorities, undertaking activities with a proven record of success, and presenting a reasonable budget for a sensible work plan will put you ahead of most competitors. To really stand out, focus on the difference between winning and almost winning. Ask yourself, “what’s the difference between a proposal that’s brilliant and one that’s merely [...]
Someone recently asked this question on Quora: " I have noticed a trend in grammar where what was once regarded as singular, now is expressed in the plural. Is my perception correct and, if so, do I simply acquiesce?" If you do acquiesce, you have some cover. The International Writing Centers Association recently adopted a policy of allowing plural pronouns to replace the clunky “he or she” and “his or [...]
The GRFP fellowship application requires three letters of recommendation, two essays, and university transcripts. So which of these is the most important? Trick question. There is no “most important component.” Applications are reviewed holistically. This means that the reviewers are supposed to look at the entire application as a whole. Based on that holistic impression, they’ll decide whether you qualify or not.
START BY TELLING THEM WHAT THEY'RE GOING TO GET, NOT WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO DO. A great proposal addresses the reviewer’s need. A great title highlights your solution to that need. Emphasize the results, not the activities.Here's a good technique for writing a great title: Make a list of words in your proposal that are important. Focus on those that convey the novelty of your idea. Brainstorm as many titles as you [...]