Bet you've never heard a title quite like that before! It's true though; while you might never have thought that the company behind the sweet soft drink has impacted many lives, it actually has. In fact, it's impacted over 5,000 former high school students' lives to date. Every year, for the past 25+ years, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has selected 150 outstanding high school seniors nationwide for a $20,000 scholarship based on their contributions to their communities.

If you have a passion for service, a motivation to do your best at whatever you do and the credentials to show for it, this is the scholarship for you. Preliminary applications with extracurricular and academic information are due October 31, but up to 2,000 semifinalists are later selected from the preliminary pool of applications to go on to the next round.

This is where I come in. The semifinalist application is a chance for you qualified applicants to show the Scholars Foundation what you're all about. Based on my own personal experience, I want to offer future generations of Scholars advice on how to best master the semifinalist application essays. While I don't have enough space in one blog post to discuss the questions in detail, I would like to provide a few tips that not only apply to all of them, but to other scholarship essays, as well (which TCE will surely provide more information on!).

1) The best part about the Coca-Cola scholarship is that it isn't need-based, nor does the scholarship discriminate against people of any race, religion, culture, etc. Needless to say, the Scholars Foundation is truly interested in each and every applicant " on the flip side, this means that they will actually read and go over each one of your essays! Make your writing stand out by telling a story that speaks from the heart. Avoid focusing on what you did, but rather why you did it. Always tie any talk of awards or activities back to YOU; better yet, don't just talk about how much awards or activities meant to you, SHOW how much they meant to you. For example, if you find yourself using the phrase "this award changed my life" start by asking yourself "how did it change my life?" and go from there. This goes for any activity, event or award you are writing about in your essays!

2) As one of TCE's earlier blog posts stated, be yourself! Don't worry about exaggerating anything in your essays; the people who write your essays can often tell if you're lying. As long as the subjects you are writing about are near and dear to your heart, your essays will speak for themselves and that is what will draw the attention of those who read your essays. After all, the Scholars Foundation wants to learn about you " not all your awards or activities (by the semifinalist stage, they've already seen your impressive list of honors!). Whether you've been working with your local politicians for years or you've been lobbying at the U.S. Senate, your humble efforts will sound world-changing if you are honest and passionate about the cause(s) you are fighting for.

3) Get to the point. Like college essays, many scholarship essays have to remain short " and the Coca-Cola Scholarship essays are even shorter than most. Students often waste sentences on meaningless description (I was so excited about winning this award! The trophy was incredibly bright but also super heavy. Yet it was the meaning of this award that meant the most to me) when they could in fact combine several sentences to save space (winning the glittering trophy was exciting, but it was the meaning of the award, not the trophy, that truly touched me the most).

4) When looking for details to cut out of an essay (with how short some essays need to be, you will inevitably have to edit some things out), always ask yourself the following: is this detail essential in the telling of my story? All essays should have a clear theme " yes, even short ones " and if the detail seems meaningless in light of that theme, it can go. It is possible to stand out in 250-350 words. All it takes is appropriate word choice and a clear-cut message to get your point across.

Last but certainly not least, NEVER back out of applying for any scholarship out of fear that you may not get it. Don't forget that you are unique in every way, meaning that nobody will have the exact same abilities, talents and activities as you. Besides, statistically speaking, the more scholarships you apply for, the higher chance you have of getting one. Too many students talk themselves out of applying for scholarships, anyways, so not nearly as many qualified people apply as you think! There is competition, but believe what I'm saying here and believe in yourself. With hard work and perseverance, you always stand a fighting chance!

If you are interested in learning more about the Coca-Cola Scholarship, please visit the http://www.coca-colascholarsfoundation.org If you have any more questions about how to prepare your applications, feel free to send me an inquiry at [email protected]

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