Dealing with rejection

A few years ago, I applied for and received a really prestigious fellowship. I had to turn it down because they don’t let you take it out of the country (GRRR). But I didn’t give up. I took that application, made it even better, and applied for a similar fellowship in my new country. I didn’t get it, but I was very, very close. This year, I improved the application even further and added all the cool new things I’ve done in the last year.

My application didn’t even make it through the first round of selection.

After the initial round of boo-hooing, I had two thoughts

  1. funding in academia is a fucking crapshoot and
  2. I am so glad that my sense of self worth is not defined by my academic accomplishments

On the plus side, all that work applying for the fellowship wasn’t in vain. With just a bit of tweaking, the research proposal part of the application will be perfect for my first committee meeting!


  1. The Phytophactor says:

    Yes, you’ve learned an important lesson, Grasshopper. And the people who take such things personally will really be miserable because there are a great chance events that often influence funding and awards. My wakeup moment was a rejected grant proposal that praised the methods, but said the hypothesis was not up to snuff; the resubmitted grant got nuked because the methods were totally inadequate.

  2. Ragamuffin says:

    you have a great mindset regarding rejection in academia (no pun intended? maybe that was a stretch…). crapshoot is putting it mildly. also, i think that they year we got our GRRR grants, it helped that we were in the pre-grad student pool, not the first or second year pools. smaller pool = less crap shooty. keep it up! i’m going through some rejections in grants i’ve been applying for lately too 🙂

  3. Laurent says:

    What a rejection means is that the project/application did not instillate enthusiasm in ca. two people. Makes me wonder if we could not find a different way to evaluate things, like pooling apps and having reviewers taking charge of several reviews: at least three -a project they like, one they don’t, one they think is average. And assessments would be averaged and ranked based on more than two assessments.
    Currently reviewers have no choice and a long list of apps to evaluate (the good thing in theory is that they should have a good idea of overall “quality”). It’s possible to design change without having to increase the reviewing pool. Thus, thinking of something like this:

What do you think?

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