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Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation: 2023-24 Guide to Essays and Short Responses

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If you’re applying to the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, you will need to pen three essays of 300 words each and three short responses of 50 words each. Read on to discover the prompts and our insider advice for writing responses that will differentiate you from similarly qualified applicants!


The following three questions are short responses to be answered in 50 words or fewer.

What topic or issue would you want to learn more about or work on during a gap year between high school graduation and the start of college? (50 words)

Coke Scholars will be granted an extra hour in each day. What will you do with yours? (50 words)

You are teaching a college course – what is it called? (50 words)

All three of these short-answer prompts lead to the same question: what inspires you? Which ideas, topics, activities, and values do you hold dear? The Foundation is giving you a chance to talk about not just your academic interests, but also your hobbies, passions, and motivations. Spend some time brainstorming about all the things you like or that pique your interest and jot them all down. Then, look for connections. Think about a gap year completely free of obligations. What projects would you pursue? What global, international, or personal issues would you explore? Maybe your grandparents immigrated from Peru, and you’d spend your year living and working on a farm there, exploring your interest in sustainable agriculture. Perhaps you’ve always wished you had time to learn the clarinet and would spend your extra hour each day practicing so you could play the Super Mario Bros. theme song. Maybe you’re a huge cinephile with an interest in social theory and would teach a course about the way class relations have been depicted in modern cinema. Each answer should be unique enough from the others so the panel gets to know as much as possible about you from one short answer to another. 

The following three questions are to be answered in 300 words or fewer. (Adapting submissions from other applications is allowed.)

Throughout high school, you have likely encountered obstacles, opportunities, or challenges that have helped you learn and grow. Think in terms of skills honed, knowledge gained, values clarified, passions discovered, empathy developed, or perspectives explored. Describe at least one of these instances, what you learned, and how it has affected your personal and professional goals. (You may write about more than one topic.) (300 words)

This prompt may look familiar, as it’s very similar to Prompt #2 of the Common App and you have, no doubt, seen similar supplemental essay prompts. If you’ve already written about this for college applications, congrats! All you need to do is trim your existing essay down to 300 words. If not, isolate a challenging incident in your life and illustrate how you learned from it. Writing about a difficult time in your life requires both vulnerability and perspective. Instead of focusing on the obstacle you were up against, spend most of the words at your disposal on how you rose to the occasion to overcome the challenge at hand. This is your opportunity to show the Foundation that you are a developing, resilient young adult. As you zero in on a key moment, ask yourself the following questions: What new perspectives, values, or communication skills did you develop? Who, if applicable, did you choose to lean on and why? What did you learn about yourself? How will you approach difficult situations moving forward? How did this event affect your vision of your own personal and professional future? Be honest and open, and we’re sure the Foundation will be impressed.

If you could participate in only one of the activities you have listed on this application, which one would you keep and why? (300 words)

Spotted in the wild: one of the most classic essay types out there, the Activity Essay. The hardest part here is picking what to write about, so look over your list of activities and jot down whatever comes to mind about each one. Why do you enjoy orchestra, coaching pee wee soccer, your food service job, or robotics club? Think about the skills you’re building, the leadership experiences, accolades received, and emotions each one brings up. Once you’ve finished brainstorming, pick the activity that appeals to both your heart and your mind: which one means the most to you and also would give you the most well-rounded experience all on its own? The key to this essay is vulnerability, so make sure you write honestly and authentically about why this activity speaks to you, what you glean from it, and what it contributes to your community.

Choose a community or network to which you belong and describe how you have contributed to shaping or improving it as well as how it has shaped you. (300 words)

This is a classic Community Essay, through and through. The Foundation wants to know what or who has made you into the person you are today and how you have impacted your community. First of all, let us remind you that your “community” can be just about anything, from your neighborhood to your family to your Taylor Swift fan club. What you address can be reflective of larger cultural constructs or a trait specific to your immediate family. Pick a community that means something to you and in which you’ve been very involved. How has this community helped form your identity? How has it influenced your vision of your own future? What have you done to better your community? Maybe you started cooking a weekly pancake breakfast for your younger siblings after your parents got divorced, which sparked your capstone research into food as a bonding agent. Perhaps members of your traveling baseball team lost funding and you organized a car wash to raise money so the whole team could compete in the playoffs. It might be tempting to pen a vivid description of your community and leave it at that, but the point of an essay like this is to tell a story about you and your contributions.

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