If you’re on the quarter system, there’s a good chance you started back to full-time work yesterday. Some, like me, started teaching brief winter session courses. A lot of academics, though, are still comfortably on break, trying to find a balance between taking that break and making some headway on various projects. While I’m sure it varies across disciplines, this is a prime time of year for various fellowship and grant deadlines.
Yesterday was the deadline for Ms. Magazine’s Writers Workshop for Feminist Scholars, but it’s still a couple of months until the March 12 deadline for the National Association of Television Program Executives Faculty Development Grant Program. March 2 is when applications for the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Summer Seminars and Institutes for College and University Teachers are due. If your university is part of New York University’s Faculty Resource Network, you have until February 12, 2010, to apply for Network Summer (which includes two technology workshops). At my own university, January 22 is the deadline for two internal grants. It always seems like the first three months of the year are filled with deadlines, and I’m always worried about letting something I care about slip through the cracks. To make sure that doesn’t happen, there are a few things we can do now.
First, get those deadlines on your calendar. Whenever your semester or quarter starts, you’re going to be inundated with demands. If you don’t have these deadlines clearly marked in the same place where you put your meetings and class schedules, there is a good chance you will forget them. I know I would.
Second, create a paper and/or digital file for each program to which you intend to apply. In this file, you should immediately place two things required by most application guidelines. The first is the application form itself. If the application form is electronic, download it and place in your digital file; it’s also not a bad ideal to place a note in that file with the URL where those forms and other program information are located. If the application form exists only in hard copy (and I’ve found this still to be true for some programs), place it in a file folder you can find easily. It might not be a bad idea to place a backup copy in another easily accessible location, too.
The second item to place in these folders is a template for the narrative that goes with the application. Some forms will require you to place all information on the form itself, but most will request some sort of statement. Even if you have no intention of writing that statement now, it’s a good time to create a template for it, even if that template is nothing more than a blank document saved under a name that makes it clear that this is the primary document for your application. If the program wants your statement to contain certain categories of information, create headings for those categories now. If you’ve applied before and been successful, or if you have the statement of someone who was, put a copy of that in the folder, too, so you can refer to it for guidance in terms of format and content.
Third, contact references now. A lot of applications require letters of reference Give those writing them all of the information they need or let them know when they can get it (if, for example, they want to see a draft of your narrative statement). Make it clear if the letter needs to be sent separately or included within your application. Map everything out with them now and send a reminder as the deadline approaches. On a side note, if you are writing a letter for someone else, make sure you’re clear about what should be in the letter and where it should be sent; putting the date you intend to send it on your calendar is a good idea, too.
There’s a lot that goes into an effective grant or fellowship application. Following these three steps now will get you on the right track and increase your chances of success. If anyone has other suggestions, please put them in the comments.
(Photo of the Aztec calendar from Flickr user Michael McCarty and licensed through Creative Commons.)