Student Academic Grants and Awards

Presidential Scholarship

How to Write a Bad Proposal

Perhaps the best way to understand what makes a good Presidential Scholarship application is to imagine a very bad Presidential Scholarship application. An unsuccessful presidential scholarship application might have some of these qualities:

Poorly written. A poorly written proposal speaks volumes about its author. Your proposal should be a flawless example of your very best writing. Your prose should be clear, articulate, and free of spelling and grammar mistakes, and perhaps most important, concise!

Inadequately researched. The subject should not be entirely new to you, even if you are not proposing to extend or connect to your thesis: applicants who can demonstrate a broad familiarity with their subject, have read foundational texts, and who can provide a brief review of the relevant issues in the literature, will generally produce a more substantive and persuasive proposal.

Not written to the audience. The presidential scholarship project is an original and academic project, and the Undergraduate Awards committee is a faculty committee; your proposal will be read by scholars from various disciplines, who all have experience conducting research and writing grant proposals.

Lukewarm or unenthusiastic sponsor. Unfortunately, if a sponsor's recommendation falls short of enthusiasm, or conveys the impression that the sponsor doesn't really support the project or the student, it can affect how the committee views the proposal. Although the presidential project is conceived and carried out by the student, help should be there when needed. Pick your sponsor carefully; solicit her or his advice in drafting and rewriting your proposal, and refer them to the "advice for recommenders" on the presidential scholarship web page. They should also feel free to contact Dr. Monique Bourque with questions or concerns.

Doesn't meet the criteria of a Presidential Scholarship. Reread the selection criteria. A presidential project, above all, is:
· Challenging. The project should be an exploration of new territory.
· Significant. A presidential project should result in a definable product that "makes a contribution"-to your intellectual or creative development, and/or to the intellectual community at large.
· Feasible. Presidential projects should be well-conceived, and likely to be completed in the time agreed-upon by you, your sponsor, and the guidelines for your department. Although research can (and frequently does) take on a life of its own, the presidential must be competed in a timely fashion or it can interfere with completing other graduation requirements.
· Independent. Presidential projects should be independent of a professor's research, designed and carried out by you.

Late. The submission deadline for Presidential proposals is March 15, 2010--no exceptions.