It means that my hard work actually paid off. The NSF GRFP is one of the most prestigious fellowships that can be awarded to a graduate student. Having this award on your record shows that you are capable of thinking beyond the average student and are able to do great research. As such, it opens many doors down the road.
The greatest advantage is that I've had the freedom and flexibility to pursue my own research interests. Having my own funding, means that I am not relying on my adviser or an external grant for my stipend, and as a result, I am not required to do research that I am not interested in.
Apply anyway. Even if you don't get the award, the experience of applying is incredibly beneficial. You get the chance to see what it's like to apply for an actual grant.
Learning to write about yourself and your research is not always an easy skill to develop, so try to get as much practice as possible.
What's also great about the NSF, is that even if you don't win, the judges give you feedback. That's immensely helpful if you plan to apply again next year or apply for a similar grant.
Dr. Melonie Williams Sexton is an academic adviser and lecturer in psychology at Vanderbilt University. She is the first McNair Scholar from the University of Central Florida to earn a Phd. LinkedIn profile
…once you finish the NSF GRFP application, your graduate apps will be a snap.
'12 Fellow, Biomedical Engineering
University of Texas at Austin