My comments seem to back this up. In retrospect, I'd say I took the enthusiastic approach. I had one reviewer who loved me, while the other two were quick to point out that my actual, concrete accomplishments and plans weren't quite up to snuff.
I thought the comments would depress me, but they are so hilariously arbitrary that all I can do is laugh at them. I got one VG/G, one E/E, and one VG/VG. Looks like I'll just have to try again next year...
Also, I get the impression that the way they evaluate these applications is not entirely dissimilar to the way they evaluate grant proposals. The evaluation process is obviously flawed, but as an academic you need to learn to work within it...
Secretly, I think you're right, but that's still not enough to keep me from refreshing the NSF GRFP website every five seconds or so. Plus, watching you eat your rejection email would make the rest of us who get rejected feel a little better...
I was told that the only time you might want to think about retaking is if you're applying to big fellowships (like NSF, if that applies to you), because they're more likely to have an absolute cutoff. I ended up being too busy over the school year to retake the test and try and surpass my pathetic 550V, though, and I won't know about the fellowships for at least a few more days...but in terms of getting in to grad schools, it definitely wasn't a problem.
Want to try and take a stab at when we'll get the results? I'm guessing it'll be this coming Friday.
I've gotten so worked up over trying to pick a grad school that I didn't think I could possibly spend too much time worrying about the NSF Fellowship, but I'm starting to. I think I bombed the research proposal, though, so I'm not very hopeful.
Anyone waiting on other fellowships? I also applied to NDSEG. Luckily they didn't ask for a research proposal, so I'm golden as long as they don't notice that the last time I did community service was in high school
It's a very good school, but when I think of Purdue, I think of chicken. As terrible as it sounds, I couldn't bring myself to apply to "The Chicken University" as an undergrad. I doubt that helps you, though.
"You'll hear back March 15th." I got the acceptance package in the mail later that day (which, incidentally, was in mid-February). At least the truth was better than the lie in that instance...but at this point I don't trust any responses I get from grad admissions offices unless they're very specific (like, "We've already sent out all of our acceptance letters" - I believe that, unfortunately).
Penn isn't particularly unsafe (although I suppose you could call pretty much anything unsafe if you compare it with Ithaca), and it is most definitely warmer than Cornell.
Normally I'd recommend Cornell for engineering, but if you're really serious about the business thing then Penn might be your best choice. There's a very strong business/entrepreneurship culture that permeates engineering at Penn (at least the undergrads) because the business school is so prominent, which you might not get at a place like Cornell.
Cornell has a great applied physics program, Columbia applied physics is also good, and you might also like Princeton's electrical engineering program.
On the whole, though, I'd take a look at materials science departments. Materials science is usually classified as "engineering," but it doesn't suck (I started out trying to double major in materials science and EE, so I say this from experience, although I'm still probably biased). Some places to get you started: MIT, Northwestern, Berkeley, Cornell, UPenn, Penn State, UIUC, UCSB, UMichigan, UT Austin... It might be easier for you to get in to a materials science program with an engineering background than it would be for you to get in to an applied physics program.