Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Teddy "Not Top 4.904%" Bear

So I got the response for my NDSEG fellowship application in the mail today.
Dear NDSEG Fellowship Applicant,

Your NDSEG application was among the 3,670 applicaitons that were submitted for evaluation. Approximately 180 total Fellowships will be awarded this year. Each application was reviewed by a group of panelists who specialized in their discipline. This letter is to inform you that your application for the 2005-2006 NDSEG Fellowship competition has not been selected for the award. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. You may apply again for the NDSEG Fellowship next year. I encourage you to continue with your educational goals and good luck in your future endeavors.

Program Manager
NDSEG Fellowship
ASEE Projects Office

So apparently I'm not top 4.904% material. Oh, well.

This was an attractive fellowship too. A stipend of $2500+/month, plus tuition, plus minimal health insurance coverage at universities that offer that to grad students. That's a pretty significant increase over my current stipend, though my current stipend is definitely very reasonable. It would have just been nice to live a little more comfortably (or have enough money to put into an IRA so I could have a deduction large enough to offset not being able to deduct tuition like in previous years).

Now, notice that that letter says I can apply next year. That adds insult to injury. You see, I can't apply next year. From the NDSEG website:
[Applications must] have completed no more than the equivalent of one academic year of full-time graduate study as a part-time or full-time student

So you see, next year I'll be starting my second full year of graduate school, so NDSEG simply isn't an option. So this means that they send out one big form letter to every non-selected applicant (loser?) regardless of whether they were an undergrad applicant or a grad applicant.

So I've been grouped in with a bunch of clueless undergrad applicants.

They say that since I'm not studying acoustics or nanosciences and I'm a white male, I had a few cards stacked against me anyway (perhaps I should have stressed acoustic connections in my application materials?)...

Now, the reason this is so biting is because I regret not applying for more financial support before my first year. You see, I really only applied for a university fellowship. I ended up receiving the most distinguished university fellowship. These fellowships (the DDU fellowship, a 5 year fellowship that really only funds for 3 years but gaurantees a GRA or GTA for the 2 other years) rarely go to ECE's. Two people in the department received them. The other kid also received an NSF fellowship (which I did not apply for). There's speculation that I could have received the NSF fellowship as well. In fact, random professors have forwarded NSF applicants onto me for help because they assume I got the NSF fellowship. This is either because they've confused me (Pavlic) with the other DDU recipient who did get the NSF (Parker) or because it's reasonable to assume a DDU recipient would also be an NSF recipient...

So I applied to NSF this year (which is the last year you can apply for the NSF, for the same reasons given with NDSEG)... But I know that I was just way too lazy last year, and I really should have taken the time to apply last year...

But, oh well... I'll work through it. Everyone does, right?

I hate funding. It's such petty stuff.


Sophist said...

I also hate funding applications and awards. It's so damn arbitrary. I didn't get this one big award that my whole entire department nominated me for, even though I know that my work is more influential than that of previous people who had gotten the award. On the other hand, I got this fellowship that I found out about last minute - and just barely got my sorry-ass application together in time for - WHY did they give that fellowship to me? My application sucked, and I did not deserve it based on that application. I think the bottom line is that a lot of people are passionate about their work and do a great job, and there just aren't enough fellowships to go around... But I feel my confidence sink through the floorboards every time I don't get one, and I feel like a fraud when I do get one (don't get me wrong - I feel like a very happy and grateful fraud).

Theo said...

Yeah, I was feeling that way too. Every one of those 3670 applicants probably had a good shot at being in the top 180. In fact, I bet the signal-to-noise ratio of the applications is probably pretty low. This is why we feel so surprised when we get a really nice award (the distinguished university fellowship I received was a complete shock; I was just looking for a year's worth of funding) and feel so low when we don't get something that we're sure is a perfect fit.

I'm over it. It just would have been nice... C'est la vie, right?

Theo said...

Of course, it was a pain in the butt when I let my mom know I got the response. She kept saying things like, "I wonder why you didn't get that." She even tried to come up with reasons (because she's really qualified). It's not like I let her know because I wanted to talk about it or needing consoling; I was just letting her know because parents generally are interested in how you're funding things.