3 Tips for Staying Focused and Creating a Fantastic JKCF Scholarship Application

Vanessa Newman

Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Vanessa Newman, a 2019 Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholar.

It’s a windy fall day in November. You cross your arms and brace against the autumn chill as you walk to class. It’s application season, and you’ve been losing sleep trying to write the perfect essays that represent who you are as well as your accomplishments and goals. You’re about to open the door to class when it suddenly hits you: you still have to finish your application for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship!

Hopefully you avoid this scenario by getting a head start on your scholarship application. Either way, application season is a busy and stressful time, and the Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship application can seem daunting and certainly time-consuming. Thankfully, there are some ways to make the whole process much more manageable. As someone who has been through the process, I hope these helpful tips improve your experience and give you confidence.

1. Visualize Before You Write.

Sometimes when working on your application, it might be hard to put the things you have experienced into words. Something that helped me was to stop writing, close my eyes, and remember my experiences and how I felt in certain situations. For example, one thing I wanted to communicate in my application was my passion for public speaking. I tried to think back to my journey with public speaking and how I felt when I first started. This helped me remember different moments that I could write about.

2. Find a Mentor You Trust.

I am thankful to have had a wise professor who I felt comfortable with and who could look over my application as I made progress. My mentor knew me personally and could provide feedback on whether my application was authentic and represented me well. If there are other mentors whose opinions you value and who know you well, feel free to ask them to review your application too. It’s helpful to have the perspectives of multiple people with different backgrounds. A good choice of mentors can be a professor you know well from class, a trusted family member or older sibling, or even a good friend who understands your life experiences and what is important to you.

3. Always Be Yourself.

When I was starting out on my Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, I was nervous and didn’t know how to begin. I remember looking up example applications online to see how people approached their stories. Unfortunately, instead of making me feel more confident and prepared, the examples just made me feel nervous and inadequate. I remember reading students’ stories and comparing my life to theirs, wondering if my story was “exciting” enough or if I could tell mine as vividly. In the end, I decided not to focus on other people’s stories anymore and just do my best to tell my own. I would encourage you as a Cooke Transfer Scholar applicant to avoid reading other people’s stories or comparing yourself to others. Your story is unique and special for a reason, and the best thing you can do for your application is to believe in the power of your story.

Get started on your application in Common App! The deadline for the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship is November 20.

Vanessa Newman is a 2019 Cooke Transfer Scholar studying Public Affairs at UCLA. She completed her associate degree in Social and Behavioral Science at MiraCosta College, where she earned several research conference awards and was the 2017-18 and 2018-19 Honors Scholar Program Navigator of the Year, a recognition of her leadership on projects and peer mentorship. Vanessa is passionate about undergraduate research, social change and policy, and making the world a better place.

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