APPLICATION TIPS FOR CAMPUS REPRESENTATIVES
Campus Representatives can develop programmatic strategies that will enhance students’ competitiveness for a Goldwater scholarship.
• Student involvement in research is a critical component of the Goldwater review. To make students as competitive as possible for Goldwater awards, encourage all students to engage in research as early in their undergraduate careers as possible. Increasingly, the Foundation is seeing freshmen who have significant research experience.
• In general, Goldwater reviewers find that Letters of Recommendation written by mentors who have worked with a student for an extended period of time provide more helpful insights into a student’s potential and interest in pursuing a research career than letters from individuals who have worked with a student for a short time period. Extended working relationships allow for greater depth of insights that are reported. Longer term working relationships also result in projects that are more likely to produce peer-reviewed research products like presentations and publications, externally validating the work.
As a Campus Representative, you can strengthen individual nominations in a number of ways.
• Make certain you are nominating the “right” student for a Goldwater award. A student who cannot make a compelling case for why he/she wants to be a research scientist, engineer or mathematician, may not be right for a Goldwater nomination.
• While CR narrative statements are not required, they are, as previously mentioned, strongly recommended. Personalize each statement. Generic CR statements not specific to the nominee are of limited value.
• If you are not convinced that a student intends to pursue an advanced degree or pursue a research career, it is not likely the Goldwater reviewers will be convinced either (particularly in areas like medicine, engineering, and psychology where individuals become practitioners rather than researchers). Make certain the student’s intent is to conduct research and that the student’s argument is persuasive.
Additionally, psychology applicants must be pursuing work in psychology that would be considered to be in the natural sciences.
• While a CR or mentor should not write the Research Essay for the student, feedback should be provided as the student develops his/her essay.
• Make certain the student proofreads his/her application materials. Do not submit a student application that has grammatical and spelling errors.
• The strongest letters of recommendation come from those who know the student and who have served as a research mentor for the student. Letters from non-research mentors should come from individuals who know the student well and can provide specific examples of attributes that will contribute to the applicants ability to have a successful research career.
• A letter of recommendation from an individual outside the sciences, engineering or mathematics is not as likely to convince a Goldwater reviewer that the student is headed toward a STEM research career.
• Watch for errors in reference letters. Goldwater reviewers are not going to be impressed with a reference letter addressed to another award competition, no matter how prestigious the other award might be.
• If your school has a strong sophomore nominee who is not named a scholar or who does not receive an HM, encourage this student to apply again in his/her junior year. Encourage the student to “keep working”, to maintain his/her enthusiasm and to continue to build his/her resume by, for example, presenting and, when possible, publishing his/her work.
• If a nominee has B’s in important STEM courses, it is important that the reason for these grades be addressed by those who are in a position to knowledgably comment (i.e., student, CR or mentor). Never let these grades go unaddressed.
• The Goldwater application requires that the student’s GPA be reported on a 4.00 scale. Be certain that the student has reported his/her GPA accurately and to two decimal places.
• Students who aspire to a Master’s degree are generally not competitive in the Goldwater competition.
• While it can be the “springboard” for a Goldwater-type project, a paper or presentation done solely for a lecture class does not, in general, rise to a level of work that should be listed in the “Research Activities” section of a student’s Goldwater application.