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Crafting a Winning Application: Tips from Former Barron Prize Young Heroes

by | Mar 17, 2020 | Applying to the Barron Prize, Barron Prize Winner, Guest Post

We’re busy this time of year fielding questions from students as they work to complete their Barron Prize applications. We love helping them – and figured our most recent winners would, too. We asked a few for their tips on everything from drafting essays to gathering recommendations. Here’s what they gladly shared.
I’m so grateful I applied for the Barron Prize. I took my time with the application and made sure I answered each question in a way that would highlight my project. I reviewed the instructions and guidelines many times during the application process. I read about other winners and what it means to win the prize. In the end, it paid off because I won and it was one of my best memories of 2019.

Ruby, Age 11
Founder – Three Wishes for Ruby’s Residents

Before the deadline, I would give myself a couple of minutes every day to work on my essay. For the first couple of days, all I did was jot down my ideas. For me, the first phase of writing is always dedicated to writing everything in my head. Then, once everything is down, I start editing. I decide what to keep, what to change, and what to fix. A trick that worked really well for me was reading what I had out loud. Often, I would catch mistakes that I wouldn’t have found otherwise. 

When finding people to write your letters of recommendation, make sure they truly know you and your project. Also, think big. You might be focused on helping a small community but consider how to make your solution larger, so that it serves more people. Do your best to convey why the problem you’re tackling is so important. Even though these problems seem like something only a team of adults can help solve, the truth is, anyone can do it. Because we are young, people listen to our voices. Make sure that when you apply, you convey this idea in the most meaningful way possible. 

Anna, Age 13
Inventor and Creator – Deep Plastics Initiative

Be authentic. Tell your story. Seek recommendations from individuals who know your work.

Adom, Age 15
Founder – Ball4Good

Make sure your application essay is written by you, not a parent or guardian. It makes it so much more from the heart and genuine. 

If you can, try to get a person who benefited from your project to write a recommendation to show the impact that was created by your work.

See if a teacher or a mentor of sorts will recommend you, as well. Having someone who sees you constantly and knows your personality is helpful!

Addison, Age 11
Founder – Gorilla Heroes

Applying for the Barron Prize was a great experience for me! When choosing people to write your letters of recommendation, find people who value the work you’ve been doing, the impact you’ve made, and who you are as a person. I chose two organizations that my non-profit has donated to frequently for the past six years. I chose those organizations because I knew they were pleased with our contributions and understood our mission and organizational flow.

Another tip: don’t procrastinate! Even if it seems ridiculously early to start preparing or thinking about your responses and essay or getting the letters of recommendation, start now! It’s much better to be prepared way in advance than to rush last minute and hope it all comes together. Finally, have faith in the work you’re doing and communicate your passion for it in your application. 

Grace, Age 14
Founder – The We Cancerve Movement