Questions For You all (Future Applicant)

Answers to various questions regarding the SMART Scholarship application process. Includes many tips and statistics.
ryantetreault
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Questions For You all (Future Applicant)

Post by ryantetreault »

Hello,

I am a current senior at a public high school in Florida. I currently hold a 4.58 GPA weighted, 3.96 unweighted, 1380 SAT and 28 ACT. I currently work at a Chick-Fil-A and am in multiple honor societies at my school. After graduation, I plan on attending Embry-Riddle for a degree in Aerospace Engineering BS. To all of you, should I retake the ACT and/or SAT to improve my chances, and do they look at unweighted or weighted GPA? I am also wondering what are the chances of me progressing throughout the selection process. I understand that I would have a service commitment, but I feel that a job guaranteed after college would bolster my experience and give my self a head start in the workforce. Any suggestions that you have for me over the next year to improve my chances?

codeToad
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Re: Questions For You all (Future Applicant)

Post by codeToad »

Your SAT is slightly higher than the average for SMART awardees (1337), though your ACT is a bit lower than the average (~29.5). If you have a good plan for how you can increase your scores, I would retake them to further improve your chances with SMART and colleges. They absolutely look at your past academic performance (including GPA), but you seem to be in a very good spot. I recall providing my unweighted GPA. In general, your chances look decent. Your major seems to be pretty average as far as acceptance rates (9% of applicants, 8% of awardees). All in all, that means that the acceptance rate for aerospace engineering is about 14.2%, so there will still be some strong competition.

As far as the selection process goes, it has a couple of stages. After screening students for eligibility, the applications are split up by major and the top 50% of each major's applications enter the semifinalist stage (you will be told if you become a semifinalist). I would expect that you can make it to that point. After this, the semifinalist applications are sent out to sponsoring facilities, and those that have spots for aerospace engineers will receive your application. From there it is up to them to decide who gets the spot and thus the award. Most facilities will interview you for the position. When completing your application, realize that you are trying to convince these facilities that you are a good fit.

My other piece of advice is that you have some good extracurriculars. From both a SMART and a college application standpoint, extracurriculars are essential. You may have just forgotten to mention them, but they are great for demonstrating teamwork and the ability to apply your academic expertise.

Best of luck with your application!

JDetwiler
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Re: Questions For You all (Future Applicant)

Post by JDetwiler »

I would personally advise against applying to SMART, especially with your strong resume. SMART, at best, will hinder you---you'll be working with antiquated equipment for years to come, not really learning much from it. SMART, at worst, will hurt you---there are lots of people who are very upset with the administration of this program, most of them being PhD applicants, but also those who got sent to an SF to work in a job that had nothing to do with their degree. SMART is a service program, getting labor for facilities. They historically do not care about their scholars at all.

I would instead recommend applying to other merit scholarships. There are better ones out there than this, which..might not give you as much of a stipend, but they at least aren't throwing their scholars into an abusive contract.
I'm a Phase 2 recipient, B.S. in Computer Science, B.S. in Math from Virginia Tech Dec. 2019. I've been with SMART since Spring 2017; Dahlgren is my SF.

Don't walk, run away from SMART (see my first post on this forum).

DanSMART
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Re: Questions For You all (Future Applicant)

Post by DanSMART »

It is blatantly false to say you will work with antiquated equipment at any given facility and not learn much. A Ph.D is expected to actively pursue funding throughout their career in a research based position. You get what you put into your job. It will be no different than getting employed by the same facility, after graduating through the traditional application process.

You should really base your decision off of your interests. If defense related research and serving your country is what you are passionate about... then go for it!!! This scholarship and employment opportunity can not possibly hurt your career.

JDetwiler
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Re: Questions For You all (Future Applicant)

Post by JDetwiler »

Dan, some people get lucky. Perhaps they actually get to work on things like lasers or the railgun. The rest of us end up paper-pushing and supporting old equipment that's older than almost every applicant to SMART. You'd be ignoring the large number of horror stories on this forum. People that get told to just watch Netflix at work because...who knows why. As a CS major, I was working with an operating system, language version, and even text editor all roughly the same age as me, supporting a system twice as old as me. I'm not the only one. Nowhere close.
I'm a Phase 2 recipient, B.S. in Computer Science, B.S. in Math from Virginia Tech Dec. 2019. I've been with SMART since Spring 2017; Dahlgren is my SF.

Don't walk, run away from SMART (see my first post on this forum).

DanSMART
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Re: Questions For You all (Future Applicant)

Post by DanSMART »

But, this is about a future Aerospace Engineering major. A lack of funding and equipment is not really a thing in that field. Engineers are in high demand with the SMART.

Another place you might look into if you are in the DMV area is the applied physics lab. I’ve only heard good things about working there. Although, you’d have to figure out another source of funding for that. Lol

JDetwiler
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Re: Questions For You all (Future Applicant)

Post by JDetwiler »

DanSMART wrote:
Sun Mar 29, 2020 11:12 am
But, this is about a future Aerospace Engineering major. A lack of funding and equipment is not really a thing in that field. Engineers are in high demand with the SMART.
Yeah, that's why I was selected...computer scientists are engineers (at least, according to my degree issued by the College of Engineering at my university). Your argument doesn't hold. Do you really think lack of funding is an issue for Amazon building a new headquarters in Virginia, giving a billion dollars to Virginia Tech to crank out Masters degrees for just computer science? Do you think lack of funding is an issue for the DoD when they spend nearly $10 billion each year on just cybersecurity to support legacy equipment that can't be decomissioned? They started dishing out $30K salary bonuses to cybersecurity specialists just to try to retain them, since the industry treats us that much better. Computer Science in particular is the kind of field where working on old technology is a death sentence because it means that no new employer would want your skillset. And, I'm sure it's that way for many other science & engineering fields too.

You took this from a "SMART doesn't care about its scholars" post to a "SMART is only for real engineers" post. I feel like you missed my point completely, not that I was even trying to sway you specifically about SMART. It's perfectly fine that you like them and working for the government. I'm just trying to warn new people about the ways that the rest of us have been badly hurt by this abusive administration of a "scholarship" program.
I'm a Phase 2 recipient, B.S. in Computer Science, B.S. in Math from Virginia Tech Dec. 2019. I've been with SMART since Spring 2017; Dahlgren is my SF.

Don't walk, run away from SMART (see my first post on this forum).

DanSMART
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Re: Questions For You all (Future Applicant)

Post by DanSMART »

No, this was an advice for a future applicant post. My point is that the scholarship has nothing to do with your job. If you do your due diligence before accepting and understand what it is that you can expect from the job, than there is no negative to accepting the scholarship.

Also, it is a completely valid argument that SMART has better opportunities for “real” engineering majors. Face it... CS and engineering aren’t the same thing. I’m an applied spectroscopist by the way. I’m confident about the position I’m going into, because I talked to people and did my due diligence. If I wasn’t happy with what they were offering, I’d walk away.

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