Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship

The Sea Grant Knauss fellowship funds graduate students in areas relevant to ocean, coastal,and Great Lakes resources within the US to hold a paid position in a host office to do legislative work related to NOAA concerns.

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Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems Fellowship

The Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems Fellowships are for recent grads in the STEM fields, for grad students in the STEM fields, for MBA students, and for marketing grads. This is a great program for students who want a year or two off before grad school, or who want to go into sustainable energy systems work.

What Can I do to Make Myself a Good Candidate for Fellowships?

The answer to how you can make yourself a strong candidate, unfortunately, isn’t as easy as make good grades, and it doesn’t mean being a member of 10+ campus organizations! Here are some tips for what you can be doing at every stage in the game.

  • Pick challenging classes. Really treat your time here at A&T as an opportunity to not just do well but to do well while really pushing yourself.
  • Take classes outside your major. If your schedule allows it, take classes that might not have anything to do with your major. You could even consider pursuing a minor. Emmanuel Johnson, who recently was awarded a Fulbright Student Scholarship, majored  in engineering, but he also minored in philosophy.
  • Go above and beyond in your classes. In the letters of recommendation they write for you, your professors should be talking about how you did more than you needed to and not that you simply completed your assignments on time.
  • Go to your professor’s office hours. Your professors are a resource. They want to see you succeed. Go to their office hours and talk about how you can improve in the class or how you can take your already great work to the next level.
  • Seek out research opportunities. It’s never to early to get started researching. All fields have research opportunities – find out about these by talking to your professors.
  • Study abroad. Talk to Ms. Whiteside as well as the Office of International Programs to find ways to fund study abroad opportunities
  • Seek opportunities to publish or present your research
  • Take leadership positions in campus or community organizations Or, if there’s an organization that you don’t see on campus that you’d like to see, start it yourself!
  • Develop your communication skills. This means both written and verbal. Talk in class. Talk outside of class to your professors and classmates about subjects you are interested in. Practice writing every chance you get. Never shy away from applying for a scholarship that you would be a good candidate for because of the writing! Ms. Whiteside is here to help you develop your writing, as are your professors and the University Writing Center.

Graduation Guide: Tests

So you are getting ready to enter your senior year and you are considering grad school. Unlike college, where you only had test options- the SAT and the ACT – you now have many more options, and what test you take will depend on what kind of graduate program you are planning on entering.

The GRE – Many grad programs require that students take the GRE – in particular, humanities and stem masters programs. This differs from program to program, however, so check with the particular program that you are looking at ASAP. The GRE is a lot like the SAT in that it is a measure of the verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, writing, and critical thinking skills you should have developed in undergrad. It is laid out like the SAT, but it is a bit more difficult. Also, you complete it on the computer. You sign up for an appointment to take it – you don’t take it in a big classroom setting like you would have done with the SAT. To find out how to sign up for it, visit the GRE site. Try to take the GRE about a year before you plan to enter graduate school.

Here is an article with pretty helpful advice about how to prep for the GRE.

The LSAT. For those of you planning on going to law school, you’ll be taking the LSAT. This is a sit down test that is offered four times a year and that takes about half a day to complete. Many law schools require that you take the test by December of the year before you plan to enter your fall semester of law school, though taking it earlier is advised.

Check out LSAT tips available here.

The MCAT If you are planning on going to medical school, you will take the MCAT (Medical college admissions test). In most cases, you’ll want to take the MCAT in the calender year prior to the year in which you plan to enter medical school. The MCAT site gives this advice: “If you think that you will take the exam more than once in a given calendar year, you may want to make your first attempt in January, March, April, or May. This should allow you sufficient time to receive your scores, make a decision about your second attempt, and find an available seat later in the testing year. Seats fill up quickly, especially near the end of the year, so the earlier you test and make a decision about a second attempt, the higher the likelihood that a seat will be available for you later.” This is a computer based test, but it is offered with less frequency than the GRE, so you’ll want to sign up as soon as possible.

Check out more MCAT tips here.

The PRAXIS is part of the teacher certification process. Those of you who are ed majors should be talking about this with your adviser. Check out information about NC state teaching licensure requirements here.

The GMAT is for individuals who want to get a graduate degree in management, including an MBA, a Master of Accountancy, and Master of Finance programs. If you are planning on getting an MBA, however, you most likely do not need to be worried about this right now. There are differing opinions on how long students should wait to begin business school, but most programs still prefer that students have between 2-4 years of job experience, and will usually reflect this in their admissions decisions. The reasoning here is that students who have job experience have been able to develop analytical, teamwork, leadership, analytical, and communication skills necessary to succeed in an MBA. There are some exceptions to this, and it is of course always important to do thorough research into the programs that you are interested in and to ask admissions officers this questions specifically. This Wall Street Journal article talks about some schools that are starting to admit students straight out of undergrad, and it also talks about some interesting programs that target students straight out of undergrad.

 

The Proposal

Many awards will require that you write a proposal that details what you plan to do with the resources allotted to you through your fellowships – whether this be research funds, graduate school funds, or a stipend for a time spent performing service. Think of it this way: you are asking someone for money, so you have to tell what you are going to do with it. The proposal is your chance to argue about why an investment in you would be an investment in the fellowship committee’s goal (research? cultural understanding? the future of foreign policy?)

Even knowing this, students often have trouble knowing what to put into their fellowship proposals. I usually suggest that students begin by writing lists detailing what they plan to do. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

1. Where are you planning to go? If this proposal is for a particular university, you need to explain what this university has that is uniquely suited to help you achieve your goals. If you are proposing to go to a university in another country, you should also explain why this country is significant to you, culturally and academically. If you are planning to do research in another country, you must explain why it is essential that you go to that country to perform your research. As you write, anticipate the question: why can’t you do this at home in the US?

2. What do you plan to do? If you plan to pursue a graduate degree, what do you plan to study? What courses did you plan to take? Will you be undertaking research? If so, what do you plan to research?

If you are planning to conduct an independent research project, you need to outline the question you are seeking to answer and explain your methodology. You should also provide a hypothesis. If any of your work will require special skills or knowledge, you should use your proposal to show that you have the skills and knowledge required to help you complete it.

For either graduate work or independent research, you need to provide a rationale for your work. How will this work help you reach your academic, personal, and professional goals? How will your work advance knowledge in your field? What is new and innovative about your research? Are you building on the research of others? If so, explain this. If you are applying for an award that stresses cross-cultural understanding, you should discuss how your proposed research will help develop this.

This is also your chance to address any problems and challenges you might anticipate and to explain how you will handle them. You should also address any special research permission you might need and how you plan to get that.

How do you plan to document your research? Do you plan to present your findings in an academic paper or via another source? Many fellowships, such as the National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, expect you to detail how you plan to disseminate your findings.

3. Who are you working with? If you are applying for a Fulbright, you should have an affiliation. If you are applying for a graduate program, you should have identified faculty members who are doing the kind of research or work that you would like to do. What resources will these sources be able to provide you with? (Also, if there are tools or resources that you will need in addition to what the grant or host institution is able to provide you with, you will need to be able to tell how you will be able to fund that). For the Fulbright, you will have to show documentation of your affiliation, so keep track of all your correspondences.

4. Why is this work so important? This is more of the fuzzy and abstract part, but it is still important. You need to explain why this project is so important to you and why it should be important to the wider world. What is so significant about your project, in other words? Is this project timely – what are the current issues that it addresses? Why is this project important to your host institution? Why is it important to the US?

 

Be prepared to do a lot of revisions to your proposal, and be sure to get many different people to look over it. For the Fulbright as well as for other awards like the NSF, you likely won’t be afforded an interview to be able to answer questions about your project. Therefore, everything should be perfectly clear, and you should anticipate any concerns a selection panel might have. Again, if you are an A&T something, this is something that I will work with you on!

Other Resources to Check Out:

Yale’s Writing Fellowship Proposals and Essays

Columbia’s How to Write a Compelling Fellowship Application

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s How to Win a Graduate Fellowship

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Grant Writing Tips for Graduate Students

The Social Science Research Council’s Art of Writing Proposals

William and Mary’s Dos and Don’ts for Writing Fellowship Proposals

University of Minnesota’s Writing Arts and Humanities Proposals

Amherst’s How to Write a Good Fulbright Proposal

Alexander Lang’s NSF Fellowship Guide (with examples)

Carleton College’s How to Write Effective Proposals.

NCSU’s Applying for Graduate Research Fellowships

Indiana University’s Applying for Artistic Grants and Fellowships