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Simons Summer Research Program 2022 Application Essay Guide

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Requirements: 7 short responses of 700 characters each

Deadline: February 18, 2022

Fee: Free excluding dining costs

All text boxes accept up to 700 characters, which is approximately 100 to 180 words.

Why do you want to participate in the Simons Summer Research Program

Be specific about your aspirations and goals for the upcoming summer. Tell us which Simons faculty mentors/research groups (from the 2022 Simons Program Mentor List) are of most interest to you.

This is a straightforward question, and hopefully, you already have an idea of what you’d like to say. As the instructions recommend, specificity is key here. Think about what you hope to take away from the experience and how it will help you get closer to achieving your dreams. Take your time reviewing the Mentor List and don’t be afraid to Google someone or something you’re not familiar with.

What are your long-term academic and career aspirations/goals?

Now that you’ve addressed why you want to participate in the Simons Summer Research Program, it’s time to explore the goals you hinted at in your previous response. Don’t try too hard to impress the person reviewing your application, but instead be honest about your vision. If you don’t have specific goals in mind, you can share what kind of impact you want to have on your community, or even the world. 

How do you spend your time outside of class? 

Please briefly describe your 3 most significant interests/activities, including any employment or volunteer experience.

When thinking about “significant” interests, consider which of your extracurricular activities you have invested the most time in and which are most meaningful to you. If you can connect one or two of these interests to your academic goals or research ambitions, by all means do so, but keep in mind that work and volunteer experiences can teach skills, like empathy and cultural context, that are difficult to learn in an academic setting, and they are just as valuable.

What problem or project have you tackled recently? 

Give a specific example that best conveys your problem-solving skills or talents. You may describe problem-solving experiences outside research/ science.

With this question, the people reviewing your application want to get a better sense of how your brain works. Walk your reader through the problem, the brainstorming process, and finding the solution. The problem or project you choose to address is not as important as your summary of the steps you took to solve it, so be sure to spend most of the characters at your disposal describing your thought process.

Briefly summarize any previous research experience (if applicable). 

Please include research-oriented courses you may have taken. Tell us about any computer/mechanical skills you have that may be helpful in a laboratory setting. Be specific about the nature of your research experience(s) and your responsibilities. 

If you have not had any research experience, you can skip this question. If you have, however, in any capacity, this is the time to share your experiences and takeaways. Since you don’t have a lot of room to work with, we encourage you to write down everything that comes to mind, then trim and cut your response until it’s within the character limit.

What scientific discovery or technological advance in the past year or two did you find especially interesting and/or significant?  How did you find out about it and why do you think it is significant?

This is another opportunity for the person reviewing your application to catch a glimpse into your brain. What interests you? Why? How do you pursue knowledge? And what do you deem important? There are no wrong answers, only the opportunity to reveal new information about yourself and your values.

Within the broad discipline in which you propose to do research (biology, chemistry, physics, etc.), what question(s) or problem(s) regarding the physical and/or natural world are you most interested in, or would you most like to see answered?

Close out the writing section of your application with some flair by addressing the big questions. What answers do you hope to find through your research? What problems would you like to solve? What elements of the world are most interesting to you? What keeps you up at night? The options are limitless, so hone in on your particular inclinations and you’ll be on the right track.

Applying to other summer programs, too?
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