Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by 2018-19 International President Elda Pere.
You’ve heard this before: “As community college students, we never get any financial support. Institutions and foundations always focus on university students! Aren’t we unlucky?”
…Well, no. In fact, aside from the $90 million in scholarships Phi Theta Kappa has to offer, there are plenty of great organizations that do think about us. My favorite one? The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. As a recipient of its Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, it’s offered me up to $40,000 to finish my bachelor’s degree and, my favorite part, the title “Cookie”!
The foundation doesn’t just give up that kind of money, though. The couple dozens of students across the nation that do receive it must be the best version of themselves that they could be.
If you call yourself an honors student, you’re probably trying to be the best version of yourself regardless of the scholarship. You’re ambitious, driven, and passionate about what you do, which gives you a good chance of winning a decent amount of scholarships. In fact, most winners of the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship are PTK members.
If you want to increase your chances of winning the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, follow the checklist below.
- Check to see if you’re eligible for the scholarship. Click HERE.
- Make sure you’re keeping busy until the scholarship application comes out on September 13th. Congrats! If you’re still reading, you probably qualify. By keeping busy, I don’t mean to grab any volunteer opportunity that comes your way. Instead, focus on something that you truly care about, and look for things you can do in that field. For example, if you love animals and aspire to be a veterinarian, volunteer at your local zoo or vet’s office and try establishing some sort of animal rights organization in your area. If you care enough to leave an impact and aren’t afraid to lead the way, you’ll certainly stand out to the judges.
- Begin the application early. You definitely want to leave yourself time to edit your work and have other people look at it as well. If you really want the $40,000, I’d suggest asking three other people to go over your responses. You’d want somebody like a writing professor or a tutor that could check your grammar and stylistic errors.
- Recommendations matter. It may not seem like you have a say in how you’ll be described by your recommendation letters, but that isn’t the case. Instead of simply asking a professor to write you a letter, sit down with them and explain what you’re trying to emphasize in your application. If they don’t know you, tell them about yourself! It would help to give them pointers instead of having them write something generic.
- Don’t just answer the questions. Tell a story. One of the most important things to consider when answering the essay questions is that you’re not just answering questions. You have to think outside the box for each one, even if there’s a very straightforward answer to it. Tell a story, highlight a small moment that no one would think of, or find an unusual way of organizing your words. For example, when I was asked my personal biography, I listed a couple of meaningful diary entries and wrote a short paragraph bringing it all together in the end.
The fact that you read this far means you’re probably a great candidate for the scholarship. The only thing you have to do now is show the judges that. As you’re telling your story, don’t forget to be honest and original, and give yourself time to put your best work in the application. The thousands of dollars may seem too good to be true — I still think they are — but after putting your best foot forward, you’d be surprised by what could happen after you click “submit.”
The Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship application opens September 13. Sign up to be notified when the application is live.