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Other Reasons an NSF Fellowship app would be declined?

  1. Oct 29, 2016 #1
    There are some obvious reasons I know it would be declined:
    Not following the guidelines, any sort of misconduct ( which could lead to more trouble), poor writing, poor reference letters etc.

    I re-read all my statements so many times, and I have also had other people proof-read. I have found a few grammatical errors after submitting the app. They might not stand out, but that depends on the reader. I am 100% aware that grammatical errors are bad, and I tried to make sure there were not any. =( .... Does it depend on the reader about how many grammatical errors are too many? I know some do think one is too many.

    On a more realistic note: I am aware of my chances of winning the Fellowship. I am instead looking at the positives. There are other fellowships to apply to in the future. Also, working through this application at least showed my advisor that I have many strengths as a researcher and that I have worked hard. I guess that's pretty important ( if not more).
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 29, 2016 #2
    Unless your application is a straight-up trainwreck (a lot of misspellings, grammatical errors, etc.) I doubt it matters. Chances are, if it was proofread by a few different people and something wasn't caught, it won't be caught by the fellowship committee either, though that's just my personal opinion. Plus, re-reading an application after submitting it is always just a way to stress yourself out - I spent a lot of nights lying awake because the last line of one of my graduate school applications said "(blah blah blah), and I am agree!"

    Also, the GRFP is so competitive... you shouldn't be asking reasons it would be declined, but reasons it would be accepted. I know a couple of people with all "Excellents" on their review that still only got an honorable mention. I know plenty of people who deserved it that didn't get it just because their reviewers woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Also, the fact that it's so heavily based on "broader impacts", including community involvement and such, means that not getting the award isn't generally indicative of someone not being a good researcher.

    TLDR - don't sweat it. The next 5 months will go easier if you forget about it.
  4. Oct 29, 2016 #3
    I think it best to look at most admissions, scholarship, fellowship, job, and other applications more in a probabilistic sense in the preparation and submission stages.

    You want to present things to give yourself the highest probability of success. Your record and how you present it and what you write increases or decreases the probability of success. No single factor is likely to make the probability 0% or 100%, except for felony convictions and Nobel Prizes.

    When you view things in terms of probabilities, it helps you plan a sufficient number and variety of applications so that the overall chances of success are very high (admitted to some grad school with needed financial aid, get some job, etc.)

    We think about a paper's odds of acceptance by a journal the same way. We usually pick a lower tier journal if we reckon the odds are less than 20% or so, but that's because (unlike applications) you can only submit a paper to one journal at a time, and we prefer not to wait for the first rejection to proceed with the process.

    I applied for a number of graduate fellowships that I did not get (Rhodes, Hertz, NSF, etc.) But I did get into all four grad schools to which I applied (MIT, Stanford, Princeton, SUNY-Stonybrook) with RA offers at all of them and department fellowship offers at MIT and Princeton. So I was able to move forward.

    Bottom line: don't worry to much about any single application, but put enough out there so that your odds are nearly 100% of being able to move forward.
  5. Oct 29, 2016 #4
    Thank you so much! Both your posts have made me feel better. I think the one really good thing that came out of it is that I showed my advisor that I am capable of fleshing out a problem for my research. The idea+the possible solutions etc. He saw that I've been working hard and all that too.

    I am actually very worried that I spent more space writing the introduction for my proposal than the actual plan. However, in my field I think it's very hard to write a proposal that would make sense if the problem does not make sense. My advisor said it was important they understood the problem. If they understand the problem, then they would understand why you proposed what you did.

    I will definitely keep applying for fellowships I am eligible for in the future and continue to work to hard.

    Thank you again! =D

    Edit: I like the idea of approaching these things with a probabilistic mindset. That makes a lot more sense and helps relieve some stress.
  6. Oct 31, 2016 #5
    Luck would have to be with me for them not catch it. I had a sentence that was not initially underlined ( proofread), but i changed the wording ( for physics to be accurate) and underlined it. In the process, I made a typo by not erasing something that I thought I erased. Thus, I have an underlined sentence with a typo :/ ...

    So I definitely reduced my probability and learned an important lesson.
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