Writing the NSF GRFP “Personal, Relevant Background and Future Goals Statement”

NSF logo

Monday, September 8th, 5-6:30 pm
109 Disque Hall (32nd and Chestnut)

The GRFP is a generous and prestigious award that supports research-oriented students in STEM and Social Science fields during their first three years of graduate school, with a $32,000 stipend plus a $12,000 Cost of Education Allowance.

The “Personal, Relevant Background, and Future Goals” essay is designed to give reviewers a sense of who you are, your experience and readiness to conduct advanced research and studies, and your research and career goals. In this hands-on workshop, we will discuss how to approach this essay and work to explore your motivation, experience, and goals to help you – and your reader – gain a deeper understanding of your fellowship application.

Please visit our website for the full schedule.

Writing the NSF GRFP “Graduate Research Plan”

NSF logo

Thursday, September 4th, 12 – 1 pm
L33 Hagerty Library.

The GRFP is a generous and prestigious award that supports research-oriented students in STEM and Social Science fields during their first three years of graduate school, with a $32,000 stipend plus a $12,000 Cost of Education Allowance.

The Graduate Research Statement is where you outline a plan for future research and demonstrate that you can conceive and undertake original research that will advance knowledge in your field and have broader impacts for society. These workshops will review what to address, how to get started, and revision strategies.

Please visit our website for the full schedule.

Info Session on NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)

NSF logo

Wednesday, September 3rd, 6-7 pm
Webinar

The GRFP is a generous and prestigious award that supports research-oriented students in STEM and Social Science fields during their first three years of graduate school, with a $32,000 stipend plus a $12,000 Cost of Education Allowance.

In this session, we will review the basics of the NSF-GRFP and consider the range of projects students have conducted with the support of an NSF grant.

Please contact us for the Webinar link: fellowships@drexel.edu

Info Session on NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)

NSF logo

Thursday, August 28th, 12 – 1pm
109 Disque Hall (32nd and Chestnut)

The GRFP is a generous and prestigious award that supports research-oriented students in STEM and Social Science fields during their first three years of graduate school, with a $32,000 stipend plus a $12,000 Cost of Education Allowance.

In this session, we will review the basics of the NSF-GRFP and consider the range of projects students have conducted with the support of an NSF grant.

Please visit our website for the full schedule.

Info Session on NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)

NSF logo

Monday, August 18th, 3-4pm
109 Disque Hall (32nd and Chestnut)

The GRFP is a generous and prestigious award that supports research-oriented students in STEM and Social Science fields during their first three years of graduate school, with a $32,000 stipend plus a $12,000 Cost of Education Allowance.

In this session, we will review the basics of the NSF-GRFP and consider the range of projects students have conducted with the support of an NSF grant.

Please visit our website for the full schedule.

Fulbright Friday: Writing the Personal Statement

Fulbright_logo Friday, August 15th, 12 – 2pm
109 Disque Hall (32nd and Chestnut)

The personal statement is an integral part of the Fulbright application. It is designed to give your reviewers a sense of who you are and how you have developed as an individual.  It can be challenging to write, especially when you are faced with the infamous blank page.  Come to this hands-on workshop for ideas on how to get started and to learn about revision strategies

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards funding for one academic year of self-designed study, academic research, creative projects, or teaching English in one of over 140 countries around the world. The program is sponsored by the Department of State.  Eligible students are US Citizens who will have a bachelor’s degree before the start of the grant (Fall 2015). Graduates and graduate students are also eligible to apply.

This is a repeating event. Make sure to visit our website for the full schedule.

 

Interview with the Drexel Writing Center: Part II, The Project Proposal

Kerri BestKerri Riveley is a Faculty Writing Fellow at the Drexel Writing Center and the Project Coordinator of the DWC-DFO Partnership, in which a team of dedicated faculty support fellowship applicants in their writing processes as they craft their essays. In addition to writing center pedagogies, Kerri’s research interests lie in extra-institutional and self-initiated writing practices.

Recently, we picked Kerri’s brain about the personal statement. Since then, we’ve continued the conversation to bring you insights about another common (and critical!) element of the fellowships application process: the project proposal.

How much background do I need to provide for my proposed project?

The requirements are different for each fellowship and so, it is important to remember to follow the guidelines provided by the institutions. For example, for Fulbright some background to a project is definitely necessary. A few of the elements that must be in this application are: cultural connection, affiliation with your host country/university, your past research, and your future goals. As an applicant to the Fulbright fellowship, it is your responsibility to connect all of these elements together and explain their relevance with the country that you plan to go to, as well as to the US.

The reader needs to understand the significance of the project that you plan to undertake and its relation to the host country and, to America. This essay is where some background can show why the project is worthwhile to you. At the same time, you don’t have the space to delve into great details about the project, so it’s a tricky thing to balance. For example, if a student is planning to go and study water filtration techniques in India, he/she should show the relevance of the project to the population of the host country as well as to future research in America.

How much emphasis should be placed on the researcher’s goals and/or the budgetary use of the grant, when writing the project proposal?

In my experience, there haven’t been a lot of applicants who explicitly detail out the budgetary breakdown in their project proposal. The money received as a part of the grant is looked at as more of a means to an end. The main focus of this essay is the research that the student is conducting or the project that he/she is working on. In certain applications, it may be required to break down the budget to explain how and where the money will be used. This, however, will be typically asked for in sections other than the essays.

Between the two notions – research is more important for the betterment of humanity, or research should be done for the advancement of the scientific community – which carries more weight when it comes to applying for fellowships?

Some fellowships are interested in the betterment of humanity while others are focused on the advancement of the scientific community. It is, therefore, very important to know the goals and mission of the fellowship that one is applying to. A single project can be put forth in multiple ways to match the requirements of the different fellowships and be in line with the expectations.

The notion “Make me care,” is something that we often hear when it comes to the project proposal. What does a student need to consider when thinking about his or her audience?

It is important to research the background of the readers because chances are they are not in the same discipline as you. Knowing your readers can help determine the kind of terminology to use in your project proposal, what terms to define and concepts to explain. For example, for NSF the grant statement is expected to be a little more technical than a Fulbright essay. Parallels can be drawn between writing for Fulbright and writing for the New York Times magazine: the essay should be accessible to the average, educated reader, and interesting enough of a topic to elaborate on with some detail. Also, it is helpful to get feedback from your advisors and peers. People from your field can point out things that do not make sense technically while people outside your field can help determine if the essay is too technical.

What is the practice of the DWC when working with students on drafting and revising their essays? What can student expect from a session? Can students use multiple sessions and/or get feedback from more than one staff member of the DWC?

At the Writing Center, we understand that writing is a grueling, self-reflective and almost an emotionally draining process. We are here to help you through it, to revise, to come into a better context of who you are and what drives and motivates you. I believe everyone has the ability to tap into that aspect of themselves.

We work one-on-one with each applicant. DWC sessions are very student centered which means that the applicant decides what he/she wants to work on. If they are concerned regarding the general flow of the essay, the transitions or the wordiness of the essays, we work with them to address these concerns. The sessions are very conversation based and there are a lot of questions that go back and forth while solving the issues. It isn’t that the students bring in a paper and we revise it for them. It is a slow gradual process where the student is the person who decides what needs to change and how. There are a lot of revisions and we work with the student to figure out gradually what works best.  Students are also welcome to work with multiple tutors and have multiple sessions.

If you are fellowship applicant, we highly recommend that you take advantage of this resource and sign up for a session with the Drexel Writing Center.

NSF GRFP Reflections with Adams Rackes

Adams Rackes BestAdams Rackes (Architectural Engineering, BS/PhD, Honors) is 2014 recipient of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship (GRFP) and a Fulbright Student Scholarship to Brazil. An Engineer-in-Training, his current research focuses on using machine learning and optimization techniques to improve the control of ventilation in commercial buildings, in order to both save energy and improve indoor air quality. Adams also holds a BA in History and Literature from Harvard University.

The NSF GRFP is one of the most prestigious fellowships in the US for STEM students. The program recently opened a new round of applications, with national deadlines from October 29 – November 4 depending on your field, and an optional campus deadline for faculty review arranged by the DFO, on October 16.

As someone who recently went through the process, we thought we’d check in with Adams to find out what it was like for him, and glean any insights he might have for this year’s applicants.

DFO: You have an interesting story because you didn’t start out in STEM. What was the path that led you to a BS/PhD in Architectural Engineering and eventually the NSF GRFP?
AR:
After my first undergraduate degree, I wanted to work with my hands. I became a welder and also bought and renovated a house that had essentially collapsed. Through these experiences I became interested in the elements of buildings, their design and operation, what makes them work well. I decided to pursue these interests full time as a career. I only intended to get my BS when I returned [to school] and then planned to become a practicing design engineer.

DFO: In your view, what makes for a competitive applicant to the NSF GRFP?
AR: Good grades and good recommendations are necessary but not sufficient. The student also has to have a coherent project that seems achievable in three years, and she or he has to be able to sufficiently demonstrate why the project is important in a world of projects competing for funding. This big picture view is important.

The applicant also has to be able to explain his or her own trajectory in a way that is compelling and makes the proposed project seem like the logical, inevitable next step. Most likely the reviewers will not be experts in your field, but they will be scientists or researchers who know enough about science and engineering that they will be able to pick out aspects of the proposal that are underdeveloped.

Broader impacts are also extremely important. I would say you have to have done some type of science-related volunteering or mentoring. You might get through without having done so (or by really exaggerating whatever you have done), but not having any check in that box makes it very easy to throw your application out.

DFO: What advice would you give to fellow students applying for the NSF GRFP in terms of creating that coherent application?
AR: You need to show that you will be a future leader, and that means being a future teacher and an engaged participant in your field. You have to have something in that Broader Impacts category, like a science-related volunteering activity, and use your personal statement to link it with your research into a coherent, whole portrait of a candidate who is totally committed to furthering her or his field through personal achievement, as well helping others and disseminating findings to peers and the general public.

DFO: How did the DFO work with you through the application process?
AR:
The DFO was very helpful in facilitating review by professors, whose comments were valuable. Rona [DFO Director] and Cindy [former Assistant Director] also offered very useful comments. The Drexel Writing Center helped me organize and focus my essays. Since this is a more technical application, though, it is probably most important to work closely with your faculty advisor.

DFO: Any other insight or encouragement you want to add that you think would be helpful for current applicants?
AR:
Give yourself time to write essays and plan on a lot of drafts. I would say I had at least ten drafts of each essay. Get as many reads as you can and incorporate all the advice you feel is worthwhile. Remember, you will have at least two and maybe up to four reviewers and all those people might have different hobby horses; the more people who read your essays in advance, the more likely you will be to cover all those angles.

If you don’t succeed, apply again, and take reviewers’ comments seriously. In the NSF world, most proposals do not get funded the first time, but many more do upon resubmission. Your GRFP application is no different. If you listen and respond to reviewers’ comments, there will be that many fewer reasons why a reviewer might rate you poorly when you apply the next year.

For more info on the NSF GRFP and a full schedule of events designed to help applicants, visit our website. Also see other Drexel students who’ve received the NSF GRFP.

Alternate Workshop: Writing the Statement of Grant Purpose

Fulbright_logo

Wednesday, August 6th, 12 PM (Workshop)
Location: 109 Disque Hall (32nd and Chestnut) 

The Statement of Grant Purpose is where you outline what you plan to do during your Fulbright year and why your project is a good fit with the country you are applying to. This workshop will help you understand what to address, how to get started, and equip you with strategies for revision.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards funding for one academic year of self-designed study, academic research, creative projects, or teaching English in one of over 140 countries around the world. The program is sponsored by the Department of State.  Eligible students are US Citizens who will have a bachelor’s degree before the start of the grant (Fall 2015). Graduates and graduate students are also eligible to apply.

This is a repeating event. Make sure to visit our website for the full schedule.

 

 

Fulbright Friday: Giving & Getting Feedback

Fulbright_logoFriday, August 1st, 12 – 2 pm
109 Disque Hall (32nd and Chestnut)

During this session, you will “workshop” your personal statement and statement of grant purpose drafts from the Fellowships team, Fulbright ambassadors and other students who are applying. Sharing your writing with others and hearing from them what works and what doesn’t, what’s clear and what’s not, are critical steps in revising your essays. Students are welcome to bring their work at any stage of the process.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards funding for one academic year of self-designed study, academic research, creative projects, or teaching English in one of over 140 countries around the world. The program is sponsored by the Department of State.  Eligible students are US Citizens who will have a bachelor’s degree before the start of the grant (Fall 2015). Graduates and graduate students are also eligible to apply.

This is a repeating event. Make sure to visit our website for the full schedule.

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