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Cornell University

Guidelines for requesting BEST funding support for an experiential learning opportunity:

Start with your intention: why do you want to do this, and why is this the best way to get this experience, skill or knowledge? How will it impact your career choice? Have you spoken to BEST staff to make sure it aligns with our mission?

Have you looked into competitive offerings? (Are there even any?) If you don't mention this, one might think: how is this one so much better than another existing opportunity on campus, or within a 3h drive?

Have you already made use of local or free online resources (classes, events, speakers, mentors, etc) that provide some background knowledge? How have these experiences led you to understand what is required and valued in this career path?

Funders want to know the impact their investment will have and that you will not be the only one to benefit. Don’t make them wonder what you will get out of it, how you justify the value and why it's absolutely essential for your future success. Can you offer to teach others what you learn on your return? Is this of interest to a larger community? Will you work together with others who have also shown an interest? When you send a request that sounds like it's 'nice to have' as opposed to something closer to ‘I can’t succeed without it', it gives an easier way for supporters to say no. 

Like with any investment, no one wants to take all the risk. They want to know you have some skin in the game. Are you willing to find your own free housing or carpool with others? Have you contacted the organizer/s to inquire whether they have sponsorships for students, or at least discounts? How about the sponsors listed, would they consider a request? If they have all said no, or at least you are intending to ask them, then it is more clear you have explored other avenues and exhausted other possibilities. If they have already said yes, then indicate clearly the total cost and who will cover what aspect. Don't make anyone do any work to find out how much you are asking for. Have a budget spreadsheet on the total cost (airfare? meals? hotel? ground transport? registration? what's included? what are you paying for? who else has committed to support you?). 

How will you provide feedback to determine the value of the experience for you and for others? How will you share the outcomes?

Also, do include a deadline for a response, especially the deadline for early registration, for example, and send it in a timely fashion so reviewers have a reasonable time frame within which to work.

We follow the standards and practices as developed by the National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE), whose 8 principles were presented at their 1998 annual meeting.