Why You Should Emphasize Leadership in Scholarship Applications
When you were a child, being a leader meant you decided which schoolyard game to play during recess. Now, it may mean leading an organization, heralding a cause, or influencing the establishment. In the future, it will mean managing and motivating a team of people or making a difference in your community.
Scholarship committees recognize the value of supporting students who are promising leaders—-in fact this is a quality that almost all scholarships will reward. They want to back those who will move and shake their world.
When you apply for scholarships that value leadership, it’s not enough to say that you are a leader. You need to prove it to the scholarship committee with your experiences and illustrations. Here are some strategies for applying for leadership-based scholarships:
To demonstrate your leadership ability, show the scholarship committees how you’ve been a leader. Describe leadership positions you’ve held and your responsibilities in each, but don’t stop here. In addition, use examples to illustrate how you’ve successfully led a group, how you’ve directed or motivated your peers. Give the scholarship committee your most shining example of your leadership in action.
Provide concrete examples of the effects of your leadership. For example, did your team meet its goals? Did you lead a new or innovative project? Did you increase membership or participation? Were there changes as a result of your efforts? This provides solid evidence of the influence of your leadership and your ability to effect change.
Recognize that being a leader doesn’t just mean being the president of a class or organization. Leaders are people who are passionate about their cause and who influence other people. Leadership can take many forms from writing an editorial column to leading a Girl Scout troop. Include both formal and informal leadership roles you’ve played. This may consist of official positions you’ve held as well as special projects you’ve led in which you didn’t have an official title. The important thing about leadership is that you have influenced other people and rallied them to take action.
In applications, highlight your main responsibilities and achievements as a leader. This will provide a quick overview of your accomplishments. Select those that best fit the mission of the scholarship.
In essays, do not just repeat the information that is in your applications. Provide insight into who you are as a leader. Share an anecdote of one of your experiences leading. Describe your philosophy of being a leader. Explain when you first realized the power of leadership. Talk about a leader you admire.
For interviews, go beyond your applications. Don’t recount information that your interviewers can easily find in your applications or essays. Instead, provide personal information about your leadership experience or approach to leadership. Practice sharing examples of times you’ve been a leader. Exude confidence in your interview. Since you’ll be in the company of other leaders on the scholarship committee, ask them about their philosophy of leadership, what they did as students, and what they find challenging about being a leader in their fields.
Ask recommenders to describe examples of your leadership ability. Remind them of projects and events in which you were a leader so that they can complete the portrait of you as a strong leader.
With nearly every scholarship placing some weight on leadership, use these suggestions to show the selection committee that you can shine in a starring role.