I plan to apply for a number of fellowships and grants, and am still undecided on which to focus this summer. One of the biggest that I’m considering is the Ford Foundation pre-doctoral fellowship, and I guess that I’ll use that for this exercise:
So, what if I knew someone on the application review committee? What would they advise me to write? Well, a good friend of mine, Doug, has been on the committee for years, and he knows a great applicant when he sees one: intelligent, hard-working and committed to diversity and teaching with the background to prove it. The dissertation research topic isn’t so important, as long as the student seems competent and can tie it to his or her commitments. And, really, Doug isn’t an expert in 99.98% of the topics anyway. He just needs to get the basic idea and for it appear that the applicant understands his or her topic well. And while Doug wants to give everyone an equal chance, he has a couple of small hills of applications to flip through and less time than he needs to do so. An applicant’s got to capture and hold his attention using the correct buzzwords and an interesting narrative.