** UPDATED ** My Experience with the Application Process

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

** UPDATED ** My Experience with the Application Process

Postby Chris Moulder » Fri Nov 27, 2009 7:11 pm

2010 Program Overview (Powerpoint)

2009 SMART Applicant Student Brief (Powerpoint)


Who am I?
I'm a Senior Aeronautical/Mechanical Engineer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute--applied in December 2008 after hearing about the SMART Scholarship from a 2008 recipient. Starting Summer 2010, I will be working in propulsion testing at Edward's Air Force Base.

I have made this site with the hope of answering many of the questions that applicants will have during the application process. Please post any new questions, and I will be happy to help find you an answer.

BEFORE YOU APPLY

Major


Generally speaking, if your major is on the list (http://smart.asee.org/about) you're good. However, the idea is that you stay with the government after you complete your required service. Also, pre-med doesn't count. Engineering (Electrical, Areo, Mechanical, Civil) majors generally get the most awards but Computer Science awards are increasing.

Facilities

It is imperative that you select preferred facilities that are relevant to your field of study. When the application database is searched, facilities will be looking for those who have selected them as an option. Facilities may also look at applicants who are close geographically or who go to schools with high competences rates (This is not fair). You can find facility descriptions here: http://smart.asee.org/sponsoring_facilities

GPA Requirement

2011 average was about 3.75. Anything below 3.5 is not very competitive.

I am going to be a freshman in the fall. The application opens in August; how would they determine my GPA if I have not even started my classes?

You will submit your High School GPA and standardized test scores.

Essays (Summary of Goals, Research Experience)
Yes, this part is important. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • 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.

Do I have to be nominated by my school to apply?

The only nominations per say are your letters of recommendation.

How many applicants are there? Acceptance Statistics?

These numbers are approximation. SMART does not actually publish the statistics. These numbers are just what I or someone else remembered hearing at orientation.

2011: 6900 application, 293 Awards, 4.3 Percent Acceptance Rate
2010: 3400 application, 298 Awards, 8.8 Percent Acceptance Rate
2009: 2200 application, 263 Awards, 12 Percent Acceptance Rate

AFTER YOU APPLY

2011 Timeline

  • December 15 - Submitted Application
  • Early February - Semi-Finalists are notified.
  • March - Most phone interviews are conducted. (It's good to get a phone interview but does not necessarily mean anything)
  • April 1- Acceptance emails were sent at 5pm Friday, April 1st. (SMART has a sense of humor)
  • July - Orientation

I was selected as an alternate, when will I know if I have been awarded a scholarship?

In 2009, awards were still being given out the week before orientation. The SMART team tries their best to let you know early, but they also adjust their budget as much as possible to allow for more participants. This includes adjusting for declined awards and varying tuition costs.

If I am rejected freshman year, can I apply again sophomore, junior, senior year?

You are encouraged to re-apply your sophomore and junior years. A senior is not eligible unless they have been accepted or are applying to a graduate program


Does every facility interview candidates before making their recommendations to the SPO?

"Sponsoring Facilities do not contact us with information about phone interviews and contacts; however, interviews typically are held until the middle of March. It is our understanding that not all facilities will contact applicants, even if they are recommending them for a scholarship."

Are the 3 facilities I specified the only ones who will receive my application? Will my application be sent to other facilities if some of my preferred facilities choose not to take awardees?

"All facilities have access to your application so facilities may take interest in sponsoring you, even if you did not list them on your application."


Will I be notified on/near March 15 if I was not recommended to SPO for award, or will I just have to assume I was not if I never get an interview from SPO?

"All semi-finalists will receive notification at the end of March if they have been selected as an awardee. The SMART Program has not notified us as to whether next-level notifications will go out before then or not."


AFTER YOU RECEIVE AN AWARD

Stipend


Direct Deposit from ASEE every third Friday of the month. However, you may not receive the full amount depending on the length of your award. For instance, I was selected in April, orientation was June, and payments started in August at 25,000/12 months = $2083.33. However, I will only receive this while I am not working for my facility. Assuming I start working on July 1, 2010, I will only be paid by SMART for 10 months x $2083.33.

Just a little note, probably the only time you will ever need to contact ASEE, other than mailing in a few forms, is if you have a payment issue. Otherwise, you always deal with SMART directly.

What happens if I am awarded a scholarship and SMART goes away?

SMART balances their budget on a per student basis. This means that once you receive and accept the award, SMART has already secured funding for your entire academic career. Should the program be dissolved, your tuition will continue to be paid, you will continue to receive your stipend, and you will still have to complete your post-graduation commitment.

The 2009 budget was $27.108 Million, which works out to ~$103,000 per student.

What happens if I die?

Yes, this has been asked and has occurred. SMART will not seek reimbursement of any funds.
Last edited by Chris Moulder on Fri Dec 25, 2009 1:08 am, edited 2 times in total.
Chris Moulder
 
Posts: 99
Joined: Fri Nov 27, 2009 6:56 pm

Re: My Experience with the Application Process

Postby LiveAndLearn » Thu Dec 03, 2009 3:11 pm

I am applying for the smart scholarship, but I am stuck on how to format my goals. Do you have a sample?
LiveAndLearn
 

Re: My Experience with the Application Process

Postby UF_ME » Sat Dec 05, 2009 12:49 am

Thank you so much for creating this forum and posting your experiences with the application process it is VERY helpful
UF_ME
 
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2009 12:36 am

Re: My Experience with the Application Process

Postby cgravga » Sun Dec 06, 2009 4:12 pm

Hello,

I will be applying to the SMART scholarship next year as a junior in a combined BS-MS degree in Bioengineering. I have been searching through the sponsoring facilities and have not been able to identify which field I should be considering. I have looked at both the Biosci and systems engineering fields though it is a bit difficult to determine the actual projects some bases are working on. Would you suggest contacting the facilities directly to inquire further? I, too, want to thank you for this forum.

-cgravga
cgravga
 

Re: My Experience with the Application Process

Postby Engineer » Mon Dec 07, 2009 12:02 am

I already have an ROTC scholarship lined up, but am not yet committed (started). If I do not get the SMART scholarship this year, I cannot do it later due to the commitment I will need to make to ROTC. Somewhere in the application should I mention this is the only available year for me?
Engineer
 

Re: My Experience with the Application Process

Postby Engineer » Mon Dec 07, 2009 12:07 am

What is the best way to identify the technologies and platforms being developed at each of the various research labs? Without good information it is difficult to downselect to the top three choices for the application.
Engineer
 

Re: My Experience with the Application Process

Postby Engineer » Mon Dec 07, 2009 12:11 am

Is there a bias for candidates closer to graduation? This, of course, would allow more scholarships since the costs are reduced.
Engineer
 

Re: My Experience with the Application Process

Postby ty » Mon Dec 07, 2009 1:52 am

"It is imperative that you select preferred facilities that are relevant to your field of study. When the application database is searched, facilities will be looking for those who have selected them as an option. Given the number of applications, do not place your bets on anyone selecting you if you have not pre-selected them. You can find facility descriptions here: http://smart.asee.org/sponsoring_facilities"

I was an unselected alternate last year, I wonder this was the fault of my random selection of facilities.... I am applying this year again- I will make sure to read up on these facilities this time around;)

Thank you very much!
ty
 

Re: My Experience with the Application Process

Postby megan » Thu Dec 10, 2009 4:10 pm

Only five days away from the deadline (four business) and I am really worried that my SAT scores will not get there in time. The college board said that they were sent electronically, so shouldn't they have been there almost immediately? Will my application be considered not complete if the scores are not there by the time of the deadline? Because they are on their way. That would be horrible.

I just received the information on this scholarships a few weeks ago from the engineering department at my college, so I haven't had a lot of time to prepare and send scores.
megan
 

Re: My Experience with the Application Process

Postby jlit » Thu Dec 10, 2009 7:50 pm

I am a freshmen applying for the program. I earned a 3.1 gpa in high school which I know isn't very strong but still passes the minim. I have since gotten my act together and am expecting a gpa of 3.75 to 4.0 for the first semester of college assuming I do well on finals. I saw that you said only the top half of applicants are taken and I was curious if you knew if they would seriously look at my application or simply sort it by gpa and drop mine because of high school.
jlit
 

Re: post graduation pay?

Postby Ron » Fri Dec 11, 2009 10:02 pm

Okay, I have just submitted my application. I am a bit of a unique graduate student. I'm a veterinarian and I've just completed a residency in veterinary pathology and am continuing work towards my PhD which I'll finish ~2012. Upon graduation my salary range for positions that I qualify for would be between 80,000 (government (FDA, USDA etc.) or academia to ~120,000 or above (pharmaceutical industry). So, I am curious what kind of pay rate I could expect for my post-graduation pay durring my service comittment. Does anyone know how to find this out?
Ron
 

Re: My Experience with the Application Process

Postby frogman » Sat Dec 12, 2009 2:40 am

When you applied, was your GPA near the bottom of the 3.0 requirement? What year were you when you applied?
frogman
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Dec 12, 2009 2:38 am

Re: My Experience with the Application Process

Postby Chris Moulder » Sat Dec 12, 2009 3:02 am

frogman wrote:When you applied, was your GPA near the bottom of the 3.0 requirement? What year were you when you applied?

I applied with a 3.74 in December 2008 for the 2009/2010 school year.
Chris Moulder
 
Posts: 99
Joined: Fri Nov 27, 2009 6:56 pm

Re: My Experience with the Application Process

Postby Chris Moulder » Sat Dec 12, 2009 3:31 am

Sorry for not getting back to you guys sooner, there was a moderation cue issue.

Engineer wrote:I already have an ROTC scholarship lined up, but am not yet committed (started). If I do not get the SMART scholarship this year, I cannot do it later due to the commitment I will need to make to ROTC. Somewhere in the application should I mention this is the only available year for me?


You can mention it, but it will probably not have any bearing on your acceptance. However, ROTC and SMART can be accepted concurrently. Also keep in mind that it will be several months before you know about SMART.

Engineer wrote:What is the best way to identify the technologies and platforms being developed at each of the various research labs? Without good information it is difficult to downselect to the top three choices for the application.


Other than what is on the SMART website (link to facilities in OP), you have to search for each base's individual site. Yes, it's a pain in the ass.

Engineer wrote:Is there a bias for candidates closer to graduation? This, of course, would allow more scholarships since the costs are reduced.


I do not remember seeing any data other than BS vs Graduate. That said, I think so. All of my friends from orientation applied as Juniors and Sophomores. Other than being cheaper, it's also much harder to judge how a student will perform without any college grades.

megan wrote:Only five days away from the deadline (four business) and I am really worried that my SAT scores will not get there in time. The college board said that they were sent electronically, so shouldn't they have been there almost immediately? Will my application be considered not complete if the scores are not there by the time of the deadline? Because they are on their way. That would be horrible.

I just received the information on this scholarships a few weeks ago from the engineering department at my college, so I haven't had a lot of time to prepare and send scores.


I would definitely email or call. It's the weekend now, so no one will pick up, but you almost always have to leave a message anyway. During the week they get back to you pretty fast.
smart@asee.org
(202)331-3544

jlit wrote:I am a freshmen applying for the program. I earned a 3.1 gpa in high school which I know isn't very strong but still passes the minim. I have since gotten my act together and am expecting a gpa of 3.75 to 4.0 for the first semester of college assuming I do well on finals. I saw that you said only the top half of applicants are taken and I was curious if you knew if they would seriously look at my application or simply sort it by gpa and drop mine because of high school.


If you meet the minimum requirements, your application is fully review and you are given a point score depending on your grades, recommendations, goals, etc. If everything else looks good, you can be sure that you will be considered.

Ron wrote:Okay, I have just submitted my application. I am a bit of a unique graduate student. I'm a veterinarian and I've just completed a residency in veterinary pathology and am continuing work towards my PhD which I'll finish ~2012. Upon graduation my salary range for positions that I qualify for would be between 80,000 (government (FDA, USDA etc.) or academia to ~120,000 or above (pharmaceutical industry). So, I am curious what kind of pay rate I could expect for my post-graduation pay durring my service comittment. Does anyone know how to find this out?


Pay is semi-dependent on your base, and always has a locality adjustment. You can find more pay information on http://www.OPM.gov. I believe PHD start out as GS-11. Ultimately, you won't know until you receive your mentor information. This will be pretty far along in the process, but you will be able to back out all the way through orientation.
Chris Moulder
 
Posts: 99
Joined: Fri Nov 27, 2009 6:56 pm

Post Graduate Pay

Postby Ron » Mon Dec 14, 2009 2:42 am

Chris:
Thanks so much for all of your efforts in answer questions and providing information. It's really appreciated.

Happy Holidays,
Ron
Ron
 

Re: My Experience with the Application Process

Postby Mathew » Tue Dec 15, 2009 12:28 pm

Thanks for all the great information. Thankfully I have done everything correctly for I submitted my application today and just found this website. You seem to know the GPA average so I was wondering if you knew the ACT average for recipients? I myself had a 3.5 GPA in High School, currently a 4.0 in College, and a 26 on my ACT. Now granted I am only a Freshman and only have 12 Credits the 4.0 was not difficult to achieve but they are Core Classes such as Pre-cal, Trig, and Western Civ. Also one of my References is my current Calculus Teacher. How would you rate my chances of being awarded a scholarship?

Thanks
Mathew
 

Re: My Experience with the Application Process

Postby Chris Moulder » Tue Dec 15, 2009 4:14 pm

Mathew wrote:Thanks for all the great information. Thankfully I have done everything correctly for I submitted my application today and just found this website. You seem to know the GPA average so I was wondering if you knew the ACT average for recipients? I myself had a 3.5 GPA in High School, currently a 4.0 in College, and a 26 on my ACT. Now granted I am only a Freshman and only have 12 Credits the 4.0 was not difficult to achieve but they are Core Classes such as Pre-cal, Trig, and Western Civ. Also one of my References is my current Calculus Teacher. How would you rate my chances of being awarded a scholarship?

Thanks


I think you have a good chance of passing the preliminary cut, however, being a freshman, I'm not sure you're an ideal candidate. Not only do freshman cost the program a lot, but it is difficult for facilities to plan their hiring needs that far out. If you keep a high GPA through next semester and the first half of next year, I'd say you have a great shot then. Ultimately though, the more popular the scholarship becomes, the higher the academic and professional standards will rise
Chris Moulder
 
Posts: 99
Joined: Fri Nov 27, 2009 6:56 pm

Re: My Experience with the Application Process

Postby Mathew » Tue Dec 15, 2009 4:33 pm

Thanks, if I dont make it through this year I will reapply next year and hopefully keep my GPA as high as I can. Paying for that sophmore year at Auburn isnt going to be cheap though.
Mathew
 

Re: My Experience with the Application Process

Postby froshlastyear » Tue Dec 15, 2009 6:03 pm

It seemed like a lot of Freshmen were selected to be "Alternates" last year. I was one of them. I have kept my GPA up, and engaged in some on-campus research and I am crossing my fingers for that I get selected this year.

@Chris,

Is it true that 50% of candidates make the first cut? But the scholarship only had an 11% percent acceptance rate, that means nearly 80% of those who make the first cut don't get selected.

I am not sure if you discussed this elsewhere but what is your take at what an Alternate actually is? No alternate on CC got selected, so I am thinking it is just a designation for the people who made the cut, but were not selected.

Thanks!
froshlastyear
 

Re: My Experience with the Application Process

Postby Chris Moulder » Tue Dec 15, 2009 7:28 pm

froshlastyear wrote:It seemed like a lot of Freshmen were selected to be "Alternates" last year. I was one of them. I have kept my GPA up, and engaged in some on-campus research and I am crossing my fingers for that I get selected this year.

@Chris,

Is it true that 50% of candidates make the first cut? But the scholarship only had an 11% percent acceptance rate, that means nearly 80% of those who make the first cut don't get selected.

I am not sure if you discussed this elsewhere but what is your take at what an Alternate actually is? No alternate on CC got selected, so I am thinking it is just a designation for the people who made the cut, but were not selected.

Thanks!


It was 50% for my year, 2009, however, I doubt it will be that great this year. It is simply used as a way to limit the number of applications that facilities must sort though, however, it's apparent that many facilities only make it through those who have selected them as a preferred facility.

You are correct, an alternate is someone who made it past all cuts, but was not selected by a facility. Generally, an alternate will only be selected if an awardee declines the scholarship or after SMART calculates their budget. In other words, the number of alternates receiving awards will be significantly less than the number of initial awards.
Chris Moulder
 
Posts: 99
Joined: Fri Nov 27, 2009 6:56 pm

Re: My Experience with the Application Process

Postby SMARTengineer » Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:12 am

Chris Moulder wrote:
froshlastyear wrote:It seemed like a lot of Freshmen were selected to be "Alternates" last year. I was one of them. I have kept my GPA up, and engaged in some on-campus research and I am crossing my fingers for that I get selected this year.

@Chris,

Is it true that 50% of candidates make the first cut? But the scholarship only had an 11% percent acceptance rate, that means nearly 80% of those who make the first cut don't get selected.

I am not sure if you discussed this elsewhere but what is your take at what an Alternate actually is? No alternate on CC got selected, so I am thinking it is just a designation for the people who made the cut, but were not selected.

Thanks!


It was 50% for my year, 2009, however, I doubt it will be that great this year. It is simply used as a way to limit the number of applications that facilities must sort though, however, it's apparent that many facilities only make it through those who have selected them as a preferred facility.

You are correct, an alternate is someone who made it past all cuts, but was not selected by a facility. Generally, an alternate will only be selected if an awardee declines the scholarship or after SMART calculates their budget. In other words, the number of alternates receiving awards will be significantly less than the number of initial awards.


Interesting, in the application they misrepresented the importance of choosing the facilities. I am glad I found your forum, before submiting my application!

New this year was the option to rank your prefered general location (NE, South, Midwest, or West). Maybe they are trying to fix their previous selection method?
SMARTengineer
 

Re: My Experience with the Application Process

Postby nick » Fri Dec 18, 2009 3:33 pm

will the scholarship progrm accept applicants who are attending a junior college and plan on trasferring to a university?
nick
 

Re: My Experience with the Application Process

Postby Chris Moulder » Sat Dec 19, 2009 1:59 pm

nick wrote:will the scholarship progrm accept applicants who are attending a junior college and plan on trasferring to a university?


Yes. In fact, I have a friend who is doing this.
Chris Moulder
 
Posts: 99
Joined: Fri Nov 27, 2009 6:56 pm

Re: My Experience with the Application Process

Postby bill m » Mon Dec 21, 2009 4:48 am

Hi, I am currently a sophomore in college, but I am going to be transferring to a different college next semester. Any idea if this hurts my chances since I haven't "established" myself at the University for which the SMART Scholarship is being sought? I have done well at my current school, but I just didn't know if my chances are hurt at all since I will be attending a different school next semester.
bill m
 

Re: My Experience with the Application Process

Postby Chris Moulder » Mon Dec 21, 2009 4:40 pm

bill m wrote:Hi, I am currently a sophomore in college, but I am going to be transferring to a different college next semester. Any idea if this hurts my chances since I haven't "established" myself at the University for which the SMART Scholarship is being sought? I have done well at my current school, but I just didn't know if my chances are hurt at all since I will be attending a different school next semester.


If you're doing well now, and your current school doesn't have any history that would lead SMART to think that your grades are not an accurate representation of your abilities, then I wouldn't worry.

Similar to the question above you, even community college applicants transferring to new schools get in if they show sufficient ability.
Chris Moulder
 
Posts: 99
Joined: Fri Nov 27, 2009 6:56 pm

Next

Return to General Questions and the Application

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron