Writing a Great SMCS Proposal

Chelsea O'Brien, Communications Co-Chair

September 6, 2017

The deadline to submit a proposal to the Symposium on Military-Connected Students (SMCS) is approaching quickly. We encourage anyone who is working with or doing research on military-connected students to submit a proposal for the symposium. We have four different types of sessions: Pre-Symposium Workshops, Extended Learning Sessions, Concurrent Sessions, and Poster Sessions.

One suggestion to write a coherent proposal is to build an outline and then copy and paste it into the proposal submission form. Outlines can help with your thought process as you build your proposal. It can also help the review committee to see the full picture of who you are, what you do, and how you can contribute to the conference.

Your outline might look like something below:


Name, Title, Institution, State, Phone, Email

Program Title

Something catchy that briefly explains what you’re going to do

Program Track

Choose as many as apply:

  • Foundational Attendee (0-3 years working in student veterans and other military-connected student support)

  • Intermediate Attendee (3-5 years working in student veterans and other military-connected student support)

  • Advanced Attendee (5 + years working in student veterans and other military-connected student support)

Program Outcomes

Choose as many as apply, learn more about them here.

Professional Competencies

Choose as many as apply, learn more about them here.

Program Type

Choose one: Pre-Symposium Workshops, Extended Learning Sessions, Concurrent Session: Panel, Concurrent Session: Workshop, Concurrent Session: General Interest, and Poster Sessions

Program Abstract

Should be about a paragraph long, 80 words maximum. Be as brief and detailed as possible. Try to describe exactly what it is you’ll be sharing. This is how people will choose to attend your session.

Program Outline

Describe your session in-depth, as well as how you got to the point of wanting to present it. To break it down further:

Goals of Presentation

This should describe what you want people to walk away with. It might look something like:

The session will provide participants with:

  • Understanding of the challenges of working with student veterans who served in the 90s

  • How to apply non-traditional student development theories to student veterans

Lengthy description about session content

Expand upon your abstract, let the session reviewers know where you’re coming from. Think of it like an elevator pitch. How does your research/presentation/best practices apply to military-connected students? Is what you’re doing new to the field? How did you get to where you are with this research/session/practice? How does your work benefits both students and professionals working with them?

Program Format

Breakdown what you plan to present and how you’re going to incorporate participant engagement. For a 60 minute session, it might look something like this:

  1. Introduction of presenter and overview of topic (5 min)

  2. Description of current theory/practices (10 min)

  3. Presentation on practices (15 min)

  4. How to apply these new practices to participant’s institutions(20 min)

  5. Closing and Q&A (10 min)

Conceptual Framework

How does this session relate to previous research/practices? What theories, frameworks, or concepts are you building upon?

Presenter Background

This is the place for presenter biographies. Not only who you are and what you do on campus, but how else do you contribute to the field of military-connected students? What is your motivation for presenting?

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