Don't Be Discouraged

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

Don't Be Discouraged

Post by itsNotAllBad »

There's been a lot of fear mongering going on around these forums, and while I believe it is important for people to be aware of certain scholars' mistreatment, it's not all bad. There are plenty of scholars who have benefited greatly from this program, and thus feel less inclined to post about it. Myself included (until now, ha). Educate yourselves when you apply and before your accept an award, but don't let some bad experiences discourage you from considering SMART at all.

malarious
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Re: Don't Be Discouraged

Post by malarious »

To add on to what he said, you do not hear nearly enough from the people it benefited because they are
1) Working potentially, so more busy.
2) Not as motivated as people who are having a bad time.

You don't usually talk about a good experience at a restaurant unless it was amazing. You will complain about something as seemingly minor as a waitress not refilling your drinks though.

I will add my own experience! SMART worked with me (when it was the previous group), I missed deadlines for GPA and they pushed it back a little. They pushed it back so far, I had to get my August payments in September, so they could wait for the summer classes grades to finish. I had the chance to join any student org I wanted and no longer had to work part time to meet bills and necessities.It just so happens I was going to a study abroad when they awarded me, so I had a passive income while abroad that made it a very rewarding trip.

Now I recently moved to stage 2 and am happy with my starting salary and benefits. Depending on facility you may actually qualify for more rapid raises than the base system. At an absolute minimum, if your facility uses the GS scale, you will be a GS-7, if your facility is on LabDemon you will likely see higher numbers. I have been treated well, the benefits are great, and there is a lot of flexibility. I told my supervisor I wanted to go to Japan for Cherry Blossoms but wouldn't have the vacation. He explained how negative vacation time worked and said it would be no problem. If I want to continue my education he is happy to sign off, whether a whole degree, or single classes (organizational development has ways to take classes to keep your skills up).

The program definitely has its hiccups, but once you get through to stage 2, you will be very happy you had it.

Sisyphus
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Re: Don't Be Discouraged

Post by Sisyphus »

You would be a fool though to ignore all the horror stories and engage in Pollyanna-ish "well THAT won't happen to ME"-ism.

Fact is, approximately 5-10% (closer to 10%) of participants, by the USDR&E's own admission in a response letter to me over a year ago, wind up owing SMART money in the end for SOME reason (either failure to finish properly or hitting eject of their own volition early).

Even at the low end, for most scholars that's going to be 10's of thousands of dollars they're expected to pay back out of pocket at a fairly rapid pace...sometimes much much more.

Russian Roulette only has a 16% failure rate, so from a financial calamity perspective SMART is only about half as dangerous.


If you have ANY other options besides SMART to obtain your degree...you should strongly consider taking it, and at minimum doing the math for the worst case scenario so you know damn well just how bad it could get if you're in that ~8% and ensure you're okay with that risk.

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