Throughout the next several weeks, there will be many articles highlighting large, fall-deadline scholarships. Although these deadlines may seem far away, it is never too early to start! In fact, now might even be the perfect time to start your essays or begin to think about what scholarship programs you may be eligible for. Although large scholarships may seem out of reach, I want to assure you that they are not. You could be one application away from a life-changing experience. This week, I want to introduce you to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship, to which I have been a lucky recipient of. Near the end of the article, there will be another student perspective on the award as well as advice on your application. 

THE AWARD: Jack Kent Cooke is an organization dedicated to enriching the lives of low income students. Through it’s scholarship program, and specifically, the Undergraduate program, each recipient receives “up to $40,000 per year to attend a four-year accredited undergraduate school” (Jack Kent Cooke Foundation). In addition to this, recipients also receive a plethora of resources including personal advising. Students can even use their funding to cover study abroad and other expensive programs usually reserved for upper-class students.

THE ELIGIBILITY: All applicants for the undergraduate program must currently be a high school senior intending on enrolling in college the following fall. They must also have a GPA of 3.5 or above and a family income of less than $95,000. However, the foundation states that the median income of last year’s cohort was “$35,000” (Jack Kent Cooke Foundation). The foundation looks closely at your finances in order to uncover who needs the financial assistance, since income does not necessarily always indicate that.

THE APPLICATION: The application for this award consists of several individual essays as well as your main Common Application essay. It is important to start early so that you can draft things out and make changes as needed. 

THE PROCESS: Applications for the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Scholarship Program open on August 1st, 2020 via the Common Application. Alongside your college applications, this is an easy way to apply for this scholarship. All applications are then due by October 30th. During January of 2021, all applicants will be notified of whether or not they received semi-finalist status. Then, in April of 2021, all scholarship recipients will be announced. 

STUDENT PERSPECTIVE: As a student that has received the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate award this year, I am extremely grateful. Not only do I believe that the funding that the foundation provides is life-changing, I also truly believe that the non-monetary advising that they provide along the way is just as detrimental. Not many programs provide a similar experience, but JKC works to make their cohorts feel connected and secure. College can be a very scary place for first-generation and/or low-income students, so the help that JKC aims to provide outside of the monetary support truly makes a difference in the lives of their recipients. 

If I could provide any advice to rising seniors aiming to receive this award, it would have to be this: try to show who you really are within your application. Make your essays feel like a tiny part of you. Make sure that you are writing about things that you truly care about, as you want to show passion and great consideration within your essays. One of the reasons that it is important to start early is so that you truly have time to think about the prompts and what they mean to you. Don’t be afraid to scratch an essay if you do not think that it shows who you are. The selection team is looking for people, not qualifications. They want to know who you are. Do your best to show them! 

Angela Sweraa-Marto, another scholarship recipient this year, states that “when looking at the application, you have to watch out for the free responses and your college essay because those require a lot of time beforehand.” She also states that “you shouldn’t put it off” until the last minute. In order to do your best on this application, make sure that you are consistently working on it. We wish you the best of luck in your scholarship search! 

If you have younger siblings (in middle school or junior high) than Jack Kent Cooke also features a “Young Scholars Program.”