Successful applications can come in many forms. You should approach the organization application like you would a resume: this is the avenue through which you convince Google’s program administrators that you are qualified for the job of mentoring students.
The most important part of GSoC is providing the students an excellent experience over the summer, and Google chooses organizations that they feel confident can do this based on their application.
The Ideas Page
The ideas page is the most important part of the organization application. Please see the Ideas Page chapter of this guide for more information. Be sure to adjust any project ideas from 2020 or before to adjust for the smaller scope and time allowances for 2021 (175 hours for 2021 versus 350 hours for 2020 and before).
One question Google consistently asks of an organization on the application is whether they have participated in previous years, and if so, what their students’ pass/fail ratio was. While pass/fail ratio is but one indicator of the success of the previous year, it does weigh against other components of the application. Orgs who never fail a student are also red flags as that can indicate being too lenient on student evaluations. There is a healthy balance.
New Orgs vs. Returning Orgs
Every year Google tries to make room for new organizations in the open source world who can provide a different perspective or different opportunities to the students who participate in GSoC. This can often mean rejecting an org that has successfully participated in years past to allow space for new organizations. Often these decisions are very difficult for Google to make, because they don’t have much to do with the returning orgs’ success in previous years. Also sometimes Google chooses to let an organization that has been participating for many years have a year off to let a new organization participate. It doesn’t mean that Google is upset wit that veteran organization, there just needs to be new blood and things need to get mixed up every now and then. The veteran should certainly apply again for the next year’s program.
What Not to Do
Incomplete applications are common and result in an automatic rejection by Google. Don’t submit an Ideas List or a document Google administrators don’t have access to. Do not make your Ideas list a link to a list of bug tracker issues, that will be a rejection. Google doesn’t have the time or capacity to iterate with you on your application. Take the time to create a thoughtful proposal.
Just Because You Did Everything Right…
…doesn’t mean you’ll be accepted. Every year Google receives many more applications for organizations that want to participate in GSoC than it has capacity to accommodate. Some of the decisions about which organizations are accepted and which aren’t come down entirely to space available in the program. Google receives 500+ applications from open source organizations each year that wish to be a part of GSoC and usually only accept around 200 organization applications. Thus more than 50% of the organizations that apply each year will be rejected.
A Note on Umbrella Orgs
Google’s program administrators actually look quite fondly on the umbrella organizations that participate each year. It serves a dual purpose: it allows Google to accept more organizations in the “space” of just one, and also gives an opportunity to accept a marginally-topical org by putting it under the umbrella of a related org.
If your application is rejected, the following you may want to consider reaching out to an accepted umbrella org that might be able to accommodate you.
What’s On the Application?
The questions vary from year to year, but will be similar to:
- Why does your org want to participate in GSoC?
- How many potential mentors have agreed to mentor this year?
- How will you keep mentors engaged with their students?
- How will you help your students stay on schedule to complete their projects?
- How will you get your students involved in your community during GSoC?
- How will you keep students involved with your community after GSoC?
- Has your org been accepted as a mentor org in GSoC?
- What year was your project started?
- Where does your source code live?
- Link to your Ideas List (this is the most important part of the application!)
You’ll also be asked to complete a profile for your organization including the following:
- Organization name
- Short description
- Long description
- Primary open source license
- Contact information
- Organization website
- Social media links
- #Tags for technology and topics
- Organization specific application information