The Bezos Scholars Program application deadline of January 11, 2021 is fast approaching! For those planning to start an application, working on one, or helping a student with their application, we hope you’ll use these helpful tips to submit a complete, competitive application by the deadline.
1. Review all application requirements to ensure eligibility and understand what the application entails.
Applicants should review all eligibility requirements on the Bezos Scholars website and make a plan on how to best complete all aspects of the application on time, ideally before the deadline. Applicants are required to submit:
Their school’s current, overall free and reduced lunch rate
Information on academics, including:
Current unweighted cumulative GPA
Enrollment in or completion of at least one Honors, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or college-level course
At least two extra-curricular activities
A brief introduction video
Three well-written, short essay responses
Securing an educator nominee who agrees to participate in the program and complete a nominee form
Securing someone to complete a recommendation form
2. Nominate an amazing, committed staff person from your school to serve as your educator.
Student applicants are required to identify and nominate a trusted adult from their school to become their educator nominee. Nominated educators of selected students will be required to travel to Aspen, participate fully in the year-long program, and collaborate with Scholars and the teams they build to help develop and launch community change projects.
A 2019 educator shared, “the BSP experience is hands-down one of the best programs I have been a part of. It helped me fine tune my organizational skills as a leader, educator, coach, and mentor.”
The educator nomination is an essential, required part of an application. Choosing the right person will positively impact both parties’ experiences in the program and in launching a community change project.
Visit our website here to review educator nominee eligibility, find instructions on how to nominate someone, and understand the educator commitment and what makes a strong educator nominee. Also download and share the educator nominee digital flyer to share the opportunity with them.
Trey Chapman and Lowana Wade—an amazing student and educator Scholar team from 2019—pose in Aspen. They founded Rolling with Books to improve literacy in elementary students at an afterschool program in their hometown in North Carolina.
3. Evaluate your ability to commit to program expectations and requirements and ask your educator nominee to do the same.
Bezos Scholars Program applications are open to public high school juniors. The year-long leadership opportunity takes place the summer before and during a student’s senior year of high school. That can be a busy time, especially as seniors are applying to college and financial aid opportunities.
Review the program commitment with your educator nominee. Student and educator scholars dedicate between five to 20 hours per month on program-related activities throughout the year. This includes attending two to three virtual sessions a month that are one to three hours long, monthly check-in calls with other Scholars and the Bezos Scholars Program team, and planning sessions they set to develop and launch their community change project.
4. In the application, clearly explain your motivations for applying to become a Bezos Scholar and identify the background, experiences, and skills that you believe will make you successful in the program.
This program provides unique, year-long leadership development opportunities at a busy time in a student’s high school career, senior year. A strong interest in leadership, meeting needs that impact communities, and taking action to make positive change—now and for years to come—are some of the main reasons students apply.
As a Bezos Scholar, students identify a need in their community and facilitate a change project, known as a Local Ideas Festival. Because of this, we would like to see applicants that have already demonstrated some sort of leadership in their school or community. Big or small, we want to hear about the leadership students have experienced—and how they want to continue grow as leaders.
Research the program, past Community Change Projects, and Scholars to understand more about who was selected, why, and what they did with the opportunity. Your video and essay questions should clearly highlight why you want to pursue this opportunity now and what you will bring to the program that is authentically you. We want to hear what drives your passion; please make sure to showcase your personality in your application!
The selection committee is interested in seeing indications of diverse interests and backgrounds. They value experiences that show a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as cultural sensitivity and interest or experiences working with various cultural or socioeconomic groups.
5. In your application, include all relevant extracurricular, community, volunteer, and/or employment experiences and highlight any leadership roles in these efforts.
We are particularly interested in extracurricular, community, or volunteer activities that show a commitment to service, social causes, and other related issues. Applicants should list all such activities and indicate any leadership roles in projects, programs, or organizations, and how they collaborated successfully with others.
The selection committee also values work experiences that show an interest in these issues, as well as the knowledge that the applicant has the experience and ability to manage multiple, completing responsibilities. It is not required to submit employment history.
Students and adult supporters discuss at a table group at the 2020 Global Minds Pittsburgh Conference. The conference was founded by 2019 Scholar team, Peyton Klein and Jennifer McGonagle. Peyton founded Global Minds when she was a high school freshman which she shared more about in her application.
6. Obtain a strong recommendation from someone who knows the applicant well.
Applicants should seek individuals to provide a recommendation who know them and their work well. The recommendation should ideally come from an individual in a position of responsibility who can comment on the applicant’s accomplishments and potential, including work ethic, initiative, dependability, composure, goal-orientation, and interpersonal skills, among others. Examples of community leaders could include someone from your school (except the applicant’s educator nominee), faith community, a guidance counselor, coach, mentor, club leader (i.e., youth group leader, choir director, math club advisor), employer, or community member.
Titles of recommenders are less important than the substance of recommendations. Applicants should approach recommenders early, provide the needed information, and monitor to ensure that they submit the recommendations on time. The best recommendations directly address the applicants’ suitability for this leadership program.
Recommendations from an applicant’s parents/guardians, siblings, relatives, family friends, the person they selected to be their educator nominee, and/or paid private tutors/counselors cannot be accepted. Check out our website here to learn how to ask someone to provide a recommendation on your behalf.
7. Proofread all aspects of your application carefully and submit all application materials on time.
The Bezos Scholars selection process is competitive. Only 12 Scholars are selected from across the United States each year. Applications that are polished, well written, address all requirements, and arrive on time generally create a favorable impression. Most applications come in during the final week before the deadline—so completing it early will be less stressful, ensure you are considered, and make you stand out amongst other applicants.
Competitive applications include strong responses that answer the question directly, provide the necessary details in a clear and concise manner, are well-organized, and free from grammatical errors. We recommend having an educator, peer, or adult review your application prior to submission to help with these things.
You can track the status of your application, educator nominee form, and recommendation form online once you login to Kaleidoscope, the platform hosting our application. Here, you can view your dashboard. You will also get automated emails and text messages (if you opt into them) to alert you when key items have been submitted and again once an application is officially complete.
8. Understand what the selection committee evaluates when reviewing applications and use this information to complete your application.
Bezos Scholars Program is seeking passionate and intellectually curious young people who are rising leaders in their schools and communities. We value cultural, racial, socioeconomic, geographic, and gender diversity among applicants and seek to select a cohort that reflects the diversity across the United States.
A selection committee comprised of leaders in the fields of education, youth leadership and development, science, the arts, and Bezos Scholars alumni evaluate and recommend candidates based on the following criteria:
Identified leadership traits and skills
Ability to collaborate
Independent thought and ideas
Commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion
Readiness to Engage in the Program
Expression and listening skills
Readiness and capacity to grow
Rigor of coursework
Current, cumulative, unweighted GPA
While academic rigor and achievement is a qualifying requirement and the essay potion of the application is weighed heavily in the selection process, we recognize many factors can affect a student’s success and/or English writing competency. If you have had any academic challenges, anything affecting your ability to write essay responses, and/or if advanced level classes are not offered (or if offerings are limited at your school) we advise you to share details in one of your essay responses, knowing you are not required to disclose any information. If you expand on this in one of your essay questions, we recommend you focus on your resilience and perseverance in relation to your education.
Video Introduction and Written Responses to Essay Questions
Strong presentation and public speaking skills—the ability to concisely summarize thoughts and ideas while being authentic, even if being on camera and/or speaking in front of others is not a place of comfort.
Strong competency of written responses that demonstrate complete and supported ideas, statements, and actions that show leadership, creativity, humility, and compassion.
In the video and written responses, exemplify what we are looking for in the above categories (leadership qualities, readiness to engage in the program, and academic rigor). Providing relevant information on your education commitment, recent academic growth, and accomplishments that are points of pride is desired.
Educator Nominee and Personal Recommendation Forms
Educator nominee understands the program and commitments, is enthusiastic about the opportunity, and clearly defines their ability to commit to the program.
Enthusiastic support and encouragement for the applicant with insights on the applicant’s areas of achievement, academic rigor, reliance, ability to face and learn from adversity, and/or leadership in the community.
Supportive evidence and tangible examples of applicant’s maturity, ability to work well with others, and readiness to become a Bezos Scholar.
9. Believe in yourself and ask for help!
We implore students to not give up when working on their application, even when they are challenged or hit a roadblock. Regardless of whether a student is selected as a Bezos Scholar or not, we want them to obtain practice applying for as many opportunities as possible and identifying what they feel proud about in doing so.
Almost every student selected as a Scholar did not think they would be chosen—and they applied anyway. Don’t believe us, check out this short video. If you never apply, you’ll never know. And if you’re not selected, the practice you gained working on your application will better prepare you to go for the next opportunity. You got this!
Asking clarifying questions and asking for help are leadership skills! Turn to those in your trusted circle, in your family, at school, and in your community to ask them for help making your introduction video, reviewing, and editing your essay responses, and to be your educator nominee and provide a recommendation. Everyone needs people cheering them on and the more help you have can lead to more supportive people to turn to for encouragement!
Too often, once an event, project, or to-do item wraps up, people move right on to the next thing without pausing to intentionally take time to celebrate all that they accomplished and learned together. Celebrating hard work and achievements can boost confidence and increase motivation. Take a moment to consider how you want to celebrate the achievement of completing your application as well as all the people who helped you do so.
Recognize your own achievements and don’t forget to celebrate your own accomplishments, too! Find time to think about what you’ve achieved as part of your personal goal setting. This can boost your self-esteem, and your sense of autonomy and mastery.
We encourage you to give gratitude, reflect, and celebrate something each and every day and bring these practices with you as you go forward in your leadership journey. They also help bright stars, like you, to not burn out. If you continue to practice and foster this with others, you will bring even more value to the various communities you are a part of and help make hard work all the more rewarding and fun.
The 2019 African Leadership Academy Scholar team celebrates together over a meal with a staff member of the Bezos Scholars Program team. Sharing food together is a huge way Bezos Scholars connect and celebrate!
If you have any great application tips you want to tell fellow students applying to become a Bezos Scholar, please contact us. We would love to hear them and share.