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Tips for Building a Stellar Barron Prize Application

by | Feb 25, 2021 | Applying to the Barron Prize

It’s that busy and fun time of year when we hear from young people interested in applying to the Barron Prize. They ask great questions and we get to learn a bit about the work they’re doing to make a difference. We try to offer support as they pull together their applications.

Over the years, we’ve asked our winners to share suggestions for compiling a strong application. We’ve also asked our panel of judges what they look for and find most compelling in applicants. We recently revisited all their insightful responses to create this list of top tips for crafting a stellar application.

Personal Essay

  • Tell your story the way an excellent storyteller would.
  • Write from your heart.
  • Communicate your passion.
  • Be authentic and write in your own distinct voice.
  • Share your service journey and experiences – the good and the not-so-good – along with lessons learned along the way.
  • Include what inspired you to start your service work.
  • Consider our judges’ primary interest in applicants who demonstrate heroic qualities like commitment, authenticity, empathy, generosity, passion, hard work, creativity, courage, initiative, compassion, the earnest desire to help solve a problem, the willingness to take risks, and perseverance – especially after hitting bumps in the road.

Letters of Recommendation

  • Ask for references from adults who know you well, value your work, and understand why you do what you do.
  • Choose people who can speak to your character and leadership qualities.
  • Make sure your references can relay the positive things that have come from your service work, including how you’ve inspired others.
  • Consider asking for a letter from someone who has directly benefited from your service work.
  • Seek out heartfelt letters from personal contacts vs. letters from people with impressive titles who don’t know you well.

Supplemental Materials

  • Check that any project-related social media sites and websites are functioning.
  • Consider updating and freshening-up your online sites.
  • Submit materials (electronically) that aren’t easily found online – e.g. a poster you created for your project or a link to a recent video.
  • In addition to the one required photo, consider submitting additional photos of you involved in your service work.
Check out our Apply page for more information on applying, including eligibility and a sample application.