Bezos Scholar Application Tips

Ready to apply? Be sure to read our tips first!

By Molly Pencke

16 mins

For those planning to start an application, are working on one, or are helping a student apply, use these tips to complete a competitive Bezos Scholar application!

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9. Believe in and have confidence in yourself.

You can do hard things. You are worthy of opportunities. Shoot your best shot!

Almost every student selected as a Scholar did not think they would be chosen—and they applied anyway. Don’t believe us, check out this short video. If you never apply, you’ll never know. And the practice you’ll gain working on your application will better prepare you for the next opportunity. You got this! 

8. Know and convey your “why”.

As a Bezos Scholar, students identify a need in their community and design and develop a community change project that will make a positive impact on that need. The program provides unique, year-long, hands-on leadership opportunities at a busy time in a student’s high school career. A strong interest in leadership, meeting needs that impact communities, and taking action to make positive change—now and for years to come—are some of the main reasons students apply.  

Research the program, past Community Change Projects, and Scholars to understand more about who was selected, why, and what they fostered with the opportunity.

7. Review applicant requirements and understand what the application entails.

Hands down, the best way to do this is to fully read our Application Guide BEFORE starting an application.

Your video and essay question responses should clearly highlight why you want to pursue this opportunity and what you will bring to the program. We want to understand what needs in the world activate you.Your application should be thoughtful, well written, and unapologetically YOU!


Students and adult supporters discuss at a table group at the 2020 Global Minds Pittsburgh Conference, founded by 2019 Scholar team, Peyton Klein and Jennifer McGonagle. Peyton shared more about Global Minds in her application.

6. Nominate the right educator. 

The educator nomination is an essential, required part of an application. Choosing the right person will positively impact both parties’ experiences in the program and in launching a community change project.  Nominated educators of selected students will be required to travel to Aspen, participate fully in the year-long program, and collaborate with Scholars and the teams they build to help develop and launch community change projects. 

Visit our Educator page to review educator nominee eligibility, find instructions on how to nominate someone, and understand the educator commitment and what makes a strong educator nominee. Use the educator nominee flyer.

lowana trey

Trey Chapman and Lowana Wade—an amazing student and educator Scholar team from 2019—pose in Aspen. They founded Rolling with Books to improve literacy in elementary students at an afterschool program in their hometown in North Carolina.

5. Evaluate your ability to commit —ask your educator nominee to do the same. 

This year-long leadership program takes place the summer before and during a high school student’s senior year, when they are applying to college and financial aid opportunities.  Review the program commitments with your educator nominee, knowing one or both of you will need to step back from some things and may need to say “no” to other things to say “yes” to being a Bezos Scholar.

Student and educator Scholars dedicate between eight to 20 hours per month on program-related activities throughout the year.

4. Ask for what you need.

Asking questions and for help are leadership skills! Everyone needs a thought partner, advice, help, and someone to cheer them on.

Competitive applications include strong responses that answer questions directly and fully, provide details in a clear and concise manner, are well-organized, and free from grammatical errors. Get a supporter to review your application prior to submission to catch any errors you might miss.

Use your community and networks as you work on your application. And remember, contacting the Bezos Scholars Program with programmatic questions and Kaleidoscope with questions or issues with the online application makes you stand out positively as a proactive, communicative and engaged applicant. 

3. Make a plan, follow through

The Bezos Scholars selection process is competitive. Only 12 Scholars are selected from across the United States each year. We are seeking applicants that can set goals and carry out action steps to meet them. If you ever procrastinate, read this article about understanding and overcoming procrastination to reflect on why as well as gain some tips on how to overcome it.

2. Complete your application BEFORE the deadline.

When you submit and complete a strong application by the deadline, it shows us your perseverance, accountability, and commitment. Those are all traits Bezos Scholars need to employ throughout their time with us, and as leaders.

1. Celebrate! 

Too often, once an event, project, or to-do item wraps up, people move right on to the next thing without pausing to intentionally take time to celebrate all that they accomplished and learned together. Celebrating hard work and achievements can boost confidence and increase motivation!

We encourage you to give gratitude, reflect, and celebrate something each and every day and bring these practices with you as you go forward in your leadership journey. They also help bright stars, like you, not burn out.

chris and ala scholars

The 2019 African Leadership Academy Scholar team celebrates together over a meal with staff member, Chris Plutte. Sharing food is a huge way Bezos Scholars connect and celebrate!

If you have any application tips you want to share or feedback to provide on how we could better support applicants, please contact us, we’d love to hear them!

Thank you for applying to become the leader we all need and supporting youth leaders in opportunities that foster their learning and growth.