Gates Scholarship Advice from 3 Winners | Winward Academy


Gates Scholarship Advice from 3 Winners

The application for The Gates Scholarship – a full-ride scholarship awarded to 300 high school seniors – closes on Tuesday, September 18, 2018 at 5:00PM Pacific Time. With the deadline rapidly approaching, I asked three winners to share their insights as to what they think made the difference in their selection.
Antonio Rios, Stanford University ’22

“Your essays matter most to get The Gates Scholarship. Start writing them as soon as the prompts are released. Your grades, extracurriculars, and recommendations cannot be changed at the time of the application, but your essays can. Dive into your identities that matter most to you and present them in a digestible and meaningful manner. They will end up reading 8,000 essays, so having all four of your essays stand out is a necessity.”

Brian Vu, University of Pennsylvania ’22

“The biggest piece of advice that I would give students applying for The Gates Scholarship (TGS) is this: take a good look inside yourself and what your passions truly are. During the college and scholarship application process, it can be easy to spread yourself too thin by noting all of these amazing accomplishments. TGS, however, is a very lengthy process that will allow you to express all of your unique talents and recognitions later on. To help yourself stand out in the applicant pool, be sure to focus on those that really matter to you or that have impacted you. After all, those passions are the ones that will help you change the world. TGS will help you develop your dreams into a reality, but it is up to you to show them that you are willing to put in the effort to make it possible. By understanding what you want in your future, the scholarship application becomes so much easier from the first deadline to finalist decisions.

In technical terms, try to develop efficient time management skills. TGS is a seven-month long process — this can take a mental toll on one’s health, especially when academics and college applications are considered in the mix. Generally, about two hours a week dedicated to working on TGS application is a good starting point to meeting most of its deadlines.

Finally, have fun with this application! This scholarship is an opportunity for you to express your biggest aspirations and your visions of your future, so make the most of it!”

Cesar Cruz, University of Pennsylvania ’22

“The Gates Scholarship (TGS) may intimidate students from applying because it attracts well-rounded scholars from around the country. However, TGS does not entirely focus on test scores and grades. Based on my experience, I can assure you that academic success is only viewed in the first step. Becoming a Gates Scholar requires a student to have a unique and meaningful purpose in life. Let them hear your story, be expressive, have an open mind, and embrace your experiences and circumstances good and/or bad. If you don’t believe a Gates Scholar, know that the TGS team is comprised of experienced professionals who understand that success in high school does not equate to success in college. This is the reason all 300 Gates Scholars must attend a mandatory conference during the summer. In short, they will select those who are willing to put effort, time, and dedication into their academic career; that is why they are paying for your studies.”

What’s next with The Gates Scholarship?

The Semi-Finalist phase is from December 2018 – January 2019. Finalists are interviewed in March 2019. Selections are made in April 2019 with awards distributed from July-September 2019.

Good luck! Please feel free to check out our college knowledge curriculum if you’re looking for more support with your applications.


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Omar Husni

Omar Husni is an activist, mentor, volunteer, and tutor in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He graduated in the top 3% of his high school class, and is a proud member of the Class of 2022 at the University of Pennsylvania. Omar facilitates education and financial aid workshops to empower youth and encourage a wide range of diverse service projects. For his advocacy work and contributions to Make the Road New Jersey, Omar has been recognized by NJTV News, Reporte Hispano, Elks National Foundation, New Jersey SEEDS, Rotary International, and QuestBridge.