Writing a good proposal43 is a critical skill in many occupations, from school to business management to geology. The goal of a proposal is to gain support for your plan by informing the appropriate people.
Your ideas or suggestions are more likely to be approved if you can communicate them in a clear, concise, engaging manner. Knowing how to write a persuasive, captivating proposal is essential for success in many fields. There are several types of proposals, such as science proposals and book proposals, but each following the same basic guidelines.
Define your audience. You need to make sure that you think about your audience and what they might already know or not know about your topic before you begin writing. This will help you focus your ideas and present them in the most effective way. It's a good idea to assume that your readers will be busy, reading (or even skimming) in a rush, and not predisposed to grant your ideas any special consideration. Efficiency and persuasiveness will be key.
Define your issue. It is clear to you what the issue is, but is that also clear to your reader? Also, does your reader believe you really know what you are talking about? You can support your ethos, or writing persona, by using evidence and explanations throughout the proposal to back up your assertions. By setting your issue properly, you start convincing the reader that you are the right person to take care of it. Think about the following when you plan this part:
- Has anyone ever tried to deal with this issue before?
- If yes: has it worked? Why?
- If no: why not?
Define your solution. This should be straightforward and easy to understand. Once you set the issue you're addressing, how would you like to solve it? Get it as narrow (and doable) as possible.
- Is the solution you're offering logical and feasible? What's the timeline for your implementation?
Include a schedule and budget. Your proposal represents an investment. In order to convince your readers that you're a good investment, provide as much detailed, concrete information about your timeline and budget as possible.
- When do you envision the project starting? At what pace will it progress? How does each step build on the other? Can certain things be done simultaneously? Being as meticulous as possible will give your readers confidence that you've done your homework and won't waste their money.
- Make sure your proposal makes sense financially. If you're proposing an idea to a company or a person, consider their budget. If they can't afford your proposal, it's not an adequate one. If it does fit their budget, be sure to include why it's worth their time and money
EXAMPLE: GRADING BY JAKE44
To: North Dakota State College of Science
From: Jake M.
RE: Grading and Assignments
I am making this proposal to try and change some of the grading and assignments of classes in the school system. All school systems use same grading where there a lesson taught with homework, and then they take quizzes and tests on the material then move on to the next lesson. I have a proposal to change the system that schools use today to make it more effective for students to obtain the information, and have it been more applicable to real life careers.
My plan is to set up class where they check your progress over the year where your scored on how far you progress in the class instead of on each assignment individually. I feel like this is fairer to the students, because they stress out about studying for a bunch of tests on one chapter and after that test most of the information leaves their head when they start the next lesson. This process happens every new chapter.
This proposal is directed towards North Dakota State College of Science, but I hope it applies to a lot of schools soon.
The End Product:
That schools will still have their assignments and projects, but instead of grading everything individually you base it off progress. You would compare their progress throughout the year from the very first assignments to the ones by the end of the year. If the work is better compared to the end of the year, then the grade will reflect how far along they have come.
Costs and Supplies:
There will be no extra cost for this because you are only changing the way the grading happens in the classes.
Tentative Schedule of the Proposal:
This will be the trial run for next fall using the progress-based grading system.
- In August with the first assignments being turned in you see where all the students start off.
- Then in about October or midterms you can see where the progress has come through the year so far.
- Then in December you would compare their work to the midterm work and the very first work to get a grade for the semester.
Assignments and Questions to Consider
This deals with College Redesign45. You will propose a total redesign of one aspect of your college experience. This might include: admissions criteria, the academic calendar, grading and assessment, faculty and hiring, division of disciplines/departments/majors, what we teach in the classroom and how, what a classroom is, the role of teaching vs. research, residential life, housing/hospitality/food, what a degree is, extracurriculars, tuition/financial aid/fundraising/endowment/salaries, private vs. public, cultural attitudes about education, OR who attends college, when, and for how long…
- Get creative but make a good-faith effort to propose something that you might actually like to see happen. At the minimum, use the typical structure of a proposal to outline a redesign you think would benefit students.
44 Thank you to Jake M. from the Spring 2020 class for the usage of your proposal