The (remarkably consistent) Data-Driven Decisions of the Final Day of Fellowship Applications

It all comes down to today. After more than two months of searching, after weeks of blogging, after tweet after tweet after tweet, there is only today left to apply to become a 2016 Knight-Mozilla Fellow. We’ve written about the opportunities that our newsroom hosts pose to potential fellows. We’ve collected the posts of our many current fellows about their experiences. We’ve answered your questions on our OpenNews community calls not just one time, but twice. We’ve stepped you through how to fill out the application, how to craft a fellowship year, what projects you may work on, and even what happens after the fellowship. We’ve done all we can. Now it’s up to you.

Today is your day.

While the application expires at 11:59:59pm Eastern tonight, many of you are still pulling together what you want to include on the form. Many of you are still weighing out whether the fellowship is something you truly want to do (spoiler alert: you do). And many of you are simply waiting because you have time (well, just a little). And then there are some of you that are telling yourself that it’s too late, that the best applications have already come in, that there’s no point.

Well guess what: it’s not too late. In fact, today is the day that fully a quarter of our applicants apply. We have the data.

  • For our current group of fellows, 26% of our applicants applied on the last day.
  • For 2014 fellows, it was 23%
  • For 2013 fellows, it was 20%

We’ve been running this search for five years now, so we have numbers for days. And while we enjoy comparing the numbers, seeking to understand trends–much like the colleagues you’d work with in newsrooms–we share this not just as a curiosity. We hope this info will help you push through any doubts and clouds of procrastination, and join the good company of final-day applicants. (And for those data sticklers out there, we are sharing data from three prior cohorts rather than four because the first group of fellows were selected via a completely different process.)

  • We know that of the quarter of our applicant pool that will apply today (hey, that’s you), fully 75% will wait for the last 12 hours (in fact, for the 2014 fellows, it was 84%).
  • We know that of that 75% waiting for the last 12 hours, that 25% of you will apply in the last hour (this data point is remarkably consistent: 24% for the current fellows, 27% for 2014, 24% for 2013).

But, maybe you’re asking yourself: well all that data is great, but certainly you don’t get the fellowship if you wait that long. All the good applicants have already applied, right?

Once again, the numbers say otherwise and are, again, amazingly consistent:

  • For our current fellows, 34% of our fellowship semifinalists applied in the last day.
  • For 2014 fellows, it was 35%
  • For 2013 fellows, it was 26%

Those are people who made it to the semifinalist round–the first stage in becoming a fellow. And every year, this group of last-day applications produced fellows themselves.

We know that if you’re thinking about applying, you should. We’ve seen our fellows share that sentiment again and again. If you’re still unsure, have a question, or are stuck on part of the application–email us or tweet @OpenNews. It’s not too late to ask questions, but at the stroke of midnight Eastern Time, it will be too late to apply. We do not accept late applications, so while you can procrastinate to the last hour, we cannot offer extensions on the deadline.

So the numbers say that right now it’s not too late to become a 2016 Knight-Mozilla Fellow. In fact, the numbers say that if you’re waiting you’re not alone. Today is your day to apply. Do it.

posted August 21, 2015 | posted in fellowships