Scholarship Junkies aims to help scholarship applicants compile the most competitive applications possible, and as part of these efforts, occasional guest bloggers will be sharing scholarship tips and advice on how best to approach specific scholarships. In today’s post, Scholarship Junkies Corps members, Chloe Choe and Tommy Tran, share some of their thoughts on the Elks National Foundation Most Valuable Student Scholarship. The application for the MVS Scholarship is due December 7, 2012, and the application can be accessed via the MVS website. As always, feel free to contact us with any additional questions or submit your essay(s) for review.
The question is: What makes you different from the millions of other students that need money for college? Why are you a particularly excellent student? What makes you a more effective leader than most? How much would this tuition money really help you and your family?
- Ronald Tisdale, 2006 MVS Runner Up
Few other scholarship applications allow you to showcase examples of your leadership, service, and achievement. Maximize this to paint a well-rounded picture of yourself.
- Samson Lim, 2006 MVS Runner Up
My advice is to not sell yourself short. They want to see that you are well-rounded in and out of school. Do not be afraid to apply, even if you do not think you stack up well with others.
Steven Truong, 2008 MVS Runner Up
The time and dedication to your community and your activities are not only beneficial to your community, but can be beneficial in supporting your education as well. So don't be afraid to share about yourself and your story.
Joanna Lim, 2008 MVS Runner Up
Reflections from an Elks MVS Scholarship Recipient: Chloe Choe (2012)
Applying to the Elks MVS Scholarship is a long process but very rewarding. However, there are various aspects of this scholarship that may differ from others.
The Elks MVS Scholarship is not your typical online scholarship. A completed application will consist of typed forms of your extracurricular activities, job experience, etc., an essay, official transcript, counselor report, and copies of exhibits (optional). Rather than submitting all this online, your paperwork will be neatly put into a binder and mailed or hand delivered to your local lodge.
One unique thing about the Elks MVS Scholarship is that they ask for exhibits. Exhibits are essentially any form of achievement in scholarship, leadership, athletics, dramatics, community service, or other activities that can be fit into the binder (no trophies, unfortunately). Use newspaper articles, certificate, brochures, etc. Make the best of these! Use all ten pages that you are offered and make them double sided. Activity sheets, resumes, essays, etc. are not considered exhibits. These can really help you showcase what you do in the community.
Levels of Awards
Your application will initially be sent to your local lodge. Your application will then be reviewed by a panel and the top applicants will be sent off to your regional lodge. This process is then repeated from regional to state and then from state to national. Depending on where you live, you may be awarded scholarships starting from the local lodge. Where I live, scholarship awards started from the state level. Once you move on from state to national, you are guaranteed at least a $4000 scholarship from the national lodge. The size of your state will determine how many girls and guys the state lodge sends to the national level. The national awards are split evenly between genders: 250 girls and 250 guys.
Once you reach the National Finalist level…
Congratulations! You made it to the final step. Now you must submit a secondary application online that consists of another essay, a recommendation letter, and your Student Aid Report. After this is processed, the national results will be announced sometime in April. Don’t worry, once you made it to this step you are guaranteed at least $4000 in scholarship from the National Foundation. The secondary application is simply to differentiate between the levels of awards in the national level. Speaking of which, once you’re a National Finalist, you are competing for the grand prize of $60,000! Here is the breakdown for national awards.
|Four-Year Total Award||Number of Awards||Total|
That adds to a grand total of the Elks National Foundation giving out $2,296,000 in scholarship money to high school seniors every year! Pretty remarkable, and that isn’t even counting the local, regional, or state lodge distributions. The Elks are quite an amazing group.
I admit, when I filled out the Elks MVS Scholarship last year I thought it was pretty lengthy. Yet in the end, it was definitely worth it! I was awarded $2000 from my state lodge and $4000 from the National Foundation. So don’t be discouraged by the extensive process: you’ll definitely gain experience in applying for scholarships and possibly get monetary awards to help fund your college education.
One thing I want to emphasize for future Elks MVS applicants: the Elks are a group of people who are strongly dedicated to building stronger communities and giving back. When writing your essay, talk about something you are truly passionate about and how this helped you build or give back to a stronger community.
Good luck in the process! Remember, the Scholarship Junkies are always here to help!
Chloe Choe is a 2012 Elks MVS Scholarship Recipient and a member of the 2012-13 Scholarship Junkies Corps. Chloe attends the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington.
Reflections from an Elks MVS Scholarship Recipient: Tommy Tran (2010)
Understanding the process: I believe the Elks Lodge MVS Scholarship operates in different ways in different states. For my state, Georgia, you advanced through the local, regional, state, and then national level. Depending on your area, you may automatically be awarded a scholarship. My local lodge awarded 6 small scholarships total, 3 for guys and 3 for girls; however, only 5 people applied (3 guys and 2 girls). If you’re lucky, then you can get the scholarship just by submitting a completed application. From this round, the top guy and top girl advances to the regional level. Instead of competing at your local lodge, you compete with lodges in your region. Again, if you score high enough again, you advance onward to state. For me, I placed first at the local and regional levels but didn’t place at state. I received 2 scholarships of differing amounts (regional being the higher amount). If you make it past the state level, then you will be in the contending for the awards listed on the application.
- Fill in as much of the blanks as possible, but prioritize everything. Include the major accomplishments first, and work your way down the list. Be clear when you mention awards and activities you have been in.
- The essay is self explanatory, but might be difficult to fit in 500 words. Choose something that you’re passionate about and that has changed you in a profound way. Talk about how you have grown. Essentially, this is a self-reflection essay and should be strong. Don’t just summarize your experiences. Instead, focus on one (again, it’s in the prompt).
- This scholarship is also different from other ones. Instead of having letter of recommendations, you can submit “exhibits” to show who you are and your accomplishments. These may be optional, but use them to your advantage. Make it show that you are a well rounded person. For example, through my exhibits, I showed them my contributions and achievements. I included articles, newspaper clippings, play brochures, etc…detailing my achievements in academics and contributions in the fine arts (as a backstage hand) and community. Don’t limit yourself there. Include articles of you or any team/organizational events where you participated such as sports events, music recitals, etc…This is where you will differentiate yourself from the other applicants. You have 10 pages, double-sided. If you use them all, that’s great, but be careful of trying to include trivial certificates such as for perfect attendance or something along those lines.
Tommy Tran is 2010 Elks MVS Scholarship Recipient and a member of the 2012-13 Scholarship Junkies Corps. Tommy attends Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.