By Alexandria Smith
One of GradFund’s services is the Application Review meeting, in which a Fellowship Advisor will review a student’s draft(s) of their application materials and provide substantive, personalized feedback. This post describes Application Review meetings from the perspective of a Fellowship Advisor. We hope that understanding the GradFund approach can help students ensure that they get the most out of their meetings.
Before working with a student on an award application, Fellowship Advisors research the award the student is applying for in order to gather important contextualizing details. We gather information ranging from the mission of the funding organization, to previous awardees and their project descriptions, to the page and word limits for specific application materials. We also suggest that students do this research themselves, as it will allow them to write more effective drafts. The most critical goal of this research for Fellowship Advisors is to understand the funder’s goals and criteria for this award. This information will inform the suggestions and commentary that Fellowship Advisors provide to students.
When reading application materials, Fellowship Advisors identify potential changes to the draft’s structure, organization, and biographical content that may help the applicant convey eligibility and fit with the funding criteria as clearly as possible. Examples of these revisions can include suggesting that a student focuses on three specific funding criteria points, and dedicate one paragraph to each, encouraging the applicant to begin each paragraph with a topic sentence that summarizes the paragraph’s key point, or suggesting that the student incorporate information about a previous research or teaching experience listed on their CV. Fellowship Advisors refrain from giving research and scholarship-related revisions, other than suggestions about clarity. We encourage students to seek feedback from their advisors and in-field peers for research related revision questions.
To optimize the effectiveness of Application Review meetings, Fellowship Advisors encourage students to identify their specific questions or concerns to be addressed during the meeting and to share any feedback their advisor has given. This information provides the context to helps us adjust our feedback to what is most useful for each student. Multiple Application Review meetings are encouraged, ideally with different Fellowship Advisors. Ultimately, we hope that our feedback is useful not only for the application in question but also encourages students to use GradFund peer advising strategies when reviewing their own work and when providing feedback to their peers. Consider scheduling an Application Review meeting for your next funding application.