How to increase my chances?

Answers to various questions regarding the SMART Scholarship application process. Includes many tips and statistics.

How to increase my chances?

Postby an0therlurker » Sun Oct 01, 2017 1:50 pm

I'm currently filling out the application and I was wondering on how I can increase my chances. I'm a second semester Computer Science sophomore (fourth semester in college), have a 3.6 GPA, I have leadership experience in extracurriculars from HS/college alike, CS work experience, AFROTC experience, and average personal projects. I don't have any research experience. A lot of kids I see here have 3.8+ GPAs and have done a lot of research. Is there any way to increase my chances? What do they look for?

Re: How to increase my chances?

Postby iGuest X » Sun Oct 01, 2017 4:06 pm

Well, perhaps the most important part of the application you can change at this point is your selection of facilities. A close second are your essays. The application (at least last year) said something along the lines of “your selection of facilities has no impact on whether or not you will receive the award.” This, frankly, is bullsh*t. If you advance far enough, the facilities interested in you will personally interview you. And they get to see whether or not you selected them as a preference. Your selection is thusly critical. Select facilities that do things related to your degree, that you could see yourself working at, and write your essays tailored to them. Speaking of essays, Chris Moulder posted excellent advice here: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=13

I have copied the relevant portion below:

Know your audience. Broadly, you are writing to the Department of Defense, more specifically, you are writing to your future mentor at one of your preferred facilities. Either way, your essay should be related to your major and what your are interested in working on. If you are an Aero/Mech who listed Edwards AFB and Eglin AFB as your first choices, you better say something about flight testing. Possibly what you have worked on in the past, or what you might be interested in doing.
"We [the DoD] are not nice people, we kill people for a living." This was said at orientation, and I won't say by whom, and I'm taking it horribly out of context, but you get the idea. Generally speaking, the DoD is not interested in the environment or protecting the desert tortoise. You are not applying to Greenpeace. Unless environmental conservation is relevant to a program that you are interested in, don't mention it.
Talk about how you want to work for your facility even after your service commitment is completed.
If you do not have any research experience, that's okay. This is pegged as a research scholarship, but not every facility is looking to fill research positions. If you do not have research experience just talk about what experience you do have. Or even what experience you will have by the time you graduate.
Say you want to give back to the country and protect it from bad guys. I would suggest putting a few more adjectives and a synonym or two in there.
Have someone else spell and grammar check it...unlike what I have done for this forum.
iGuest X

Re: How to increase my chances?

Postby kbl2017 » Sun Oct 01, 2017 4:37 pm

I would focus on how well you fit at an SF. Focus a lot on your computer skills and interests and your work experience. Just make sure you say how/why you'd be the best fit for the DoD. If it makes you feel any better I didn't even have a 3.1 GPA in undergrad and I got a very average GRE score.
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