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They Would Know: Recent Winners Share Tips for Crafting a Stellar Application

by | Mar 16, 2023 | Applying to the Barron Prize, Barron Prize Winner, Guest Post, Project Tips

It’s a busy and fun time of year for us as we approach our April 15th application deadline. Students sometimes ask how they can best build a strong application and so we posed the question to our in-house experts – our winners! Read on for excellent tips and suggestions from some of our 2022 young heroes.
  • Start your application once you’ve decided you’ve made a difference in your community. After you have worked hard on a project for many years, all the contents of the application will come naturally.
  • In your project essay, don’t just write about what you have done but also share how this experience has shaped you into who you are today.
  • Don’t be shy! Speak up about your true passions and feelings.
  • In selecting recommenders, ask those who helped with your project. They know your struggles and successes best and can present your true personality in their letters.
  • When choosing your Supplemental Materials, try to include visual effects, such as photos or videos. As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” These images can bring your text to life.
  • Good luck to you all!

Hannah Guan

Age 16, San Antonio Math Include

  • Speak your truth and be clear with your intention of your project. What is your end goal, and why do you do the work you do? What is your motivation?
  • Know your impact. Have numbers and facts that demonstrate the results of your project and the work you are doing. What have you accomplished so far, and how have you made a difference?
  • Give credit where credit is due. Make sure to share any organizations or people you have worked with in the past. Who has helped you along the way?
  • Look at your materials from an outsider’s viewpoint before submitting. What is your image? What do you want people to think of when they think about your project?
  • Check multiple times to make sure you are submitting the right materials in a good way. This is especially important for the writing portions; make sure to read over your work and edit as much as necessary!
Jack Dalton

Age 12, Kid Conservationist

  • The first thing I did and always do for any application is to review the requirements early.
  • Next, request references for Letters of Recommendation. Identify people and connections who can contribute the most to your application. Then give them enough time to gather their thoughts and write a recommendation.
  • I created a Word document in which I started answering questions. I spread out the first draft over a week. This helped me structure my responses and ensure I had included everything I wanted to share.
  • Review your application. I also asked my sister to read over mine.
  • Make sure you know the deadline and submit ahead of time, when your materials are ready. Avoid waiting until the last minute!
Sahana Mantha

Age 16, Foundation for Girls

I think the most powerful way to make an impact with your application (and to make an impact when communicating any ideas to any audience) is to tell a story. This is what I tried to do with my essay, and I think it really helped me.

Creating a story humanizes the ideas you are trying to promote. When they read a story, people can imagine themselves in the situation, understand the motivations, and may even be inspired to take action themselves.

So, my top tip for your Barron Prize application is to tell your story. Try to include what inspired you to start your journey, what you have learned, and what you are planning for the future.

Sri Nihal Tammana

Age 13, Recycle My Battery

Personal Essay

  • Make a list of all the topics you want to include in your essay and cross them off as you write about them; that way, you don’t forget to mention anything!
  • Tell your story! It’s easy to get stuck and simply list all the volunteer work you’ve done, but allowing your personal voice and passion to show through in your essay will help you stand out to the judges.
  • Remember to give background information about the problem and why you’re working towards solving it. The judges want to know what motivates you to take action!

Recommendation Letters

  • Request recommendations from people who know you well and are knowledgeable about your service; they will be able to attest to your character and the impact of your project.
  • Make sure you submit your recommendation requests early, so your recommenders have plenty of time to write a quality letter.
  • Send your recommenders a short summary/description of your project when you ask for a recommendation. Even if they’re familiar with your service, it’s helpful for them to have a list of your accomplishments handy to speed up the brainstorming process!

Supplemental Materials

  • Choose supplemental materials that relate to and depict things that you discussed in your essay.
  • Try to include action photos of your project rather than posed or staged photos; good, candid shots will allow the judges to really see the impact of the activities you described in your essay.
  • Your supplemental materials don’t all have to be pictures! I submitted a document with links to different news articles, my website, online class, and social media pages, so I could still share the things that I couldn’t include in my essay with the judges.
Anna DeVolld

Age 17, Promote Our Pollinators