HOW TO PREPARE A SUCCESFFUL NSURE APPLICATION

STATEMENT IN INTEREST

The STATEMENT OF INTEREST should be about 500 words, single spaced. It should include:

your research interests, which should be somewhat tailored to the individual program.

Do your homework and explore our PROJECTS page. For these applications, you want to state your interest in maybe 2 or 3 of the research areas and say why you’re interested in those areas. State which faculty have research interests that mostly closely align with yours. As an undergraduate, you are still defining your interests, so expressing flexibility and openness is encouraged when discussing them.

You have to show that you’ve developed interests, but don’t define them too narrowly. It’s better to list a couple of interests, preferably in areas that are somewhat related. We get some really strong NSURE applications which faculty reject because they say “He looks great, but I just don’t think he’d be interested in what I do.” At the same time, if you list interests that are too general, faculty might think that you aren’t focused enough.

• any relevant research, academic, or work experience

“Relevant” is the key word here: do not list experiences you are pretty sure have no relevance to the NSURE program. Coursework can be included if a course really sparked your interest in a research area. If you have research experience, you need to describe the project and describe any outcomes. You should also state what you learned. Did you learn methodology that could be applied to other research? Did you learn or use any software programs to get data or analyze it? Did you learn how to use any other instruments? If you had any specific challenges you might describe how you overcame them. If you can get a letter of recommendation from the faculty member you worked with, you should state his/her name when introducing this section. (“During the summer 2015, I conducted research on ______ under the guidance of Dr. John Smith here at CU-Boulder .”)

If you don’t have any research experience, you should state that. NSURE is an opportunity to gain research experience, so prior research isn’t necessary. However, if something has prevented you from participating in research, you should explain this. For example, if you have significant financial need and have to work regularly to pay for your education, you should definitely include this information.

your goals and how this particular NSURE will help you achieve them.

What is it about this particular REU that interests you? How can this REU contribute to your academic/professional development?

• the qualities that you would contribute to benefit the REU program and its participants

This is something that most students fail to include, but it can be very important. The NSURE program invests a significant investment of time and money in students, and faculty want students who are interested, enthusiastic, work well in a team, and are hard working. At the very least, you can add that you will bring a strong work ethic to any research team you join. Aim to strike a balance, letting reviewers get to know you through your statement, without including an excessive amount of personal information.

LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION

You will need to get LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION from FACULTY. If you’ve had research experience, you should get a letter from your research advisor. Here’s how to ask a professor for a letter of recommendation:

Contact the faculty member (email is fine) about 3 or 4 weeks before the deadline, and ask if he/she would be willing to write a letter of recommendation for you supporting your applications to the NSURE program. You should provide the NSURE link with the application deadlines in the body of the email. You should also attach your CV (you can find guidelines for this on this here. You should also ask for a meeting with the professor to discuss your plans and address any questions. The professors will submit their letters directly, and if you see that they haven’t been submitted, a polite way to send a reminder (say, one week before the deadline) is to email the prof, thank him/her again for agreeing to write the letter, and let him/her know that you have submitted your applications in advance of the February 10 application deadline (or whatever the application deadline date is).

After your applications have been submitted, be sure to thank the professors who have written letters for you. When you’ve heard the results of your efforts, send the faculty members an update, especially if you are accepted and plan to attend one of the programs. They will be glad to hear about it.

One thing you do NOT want to do is ask for letters of recommendation and then not follow through with the applications. Faculty have enough to do without sending out unnecessary letters.