Vanderbilt Scholarship Essay Prompts Ideas

Application for Merit Scholarships

The application for the Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholarship is required; you must apply to be considered. For the Ingram Scholarship Program and Chancellor's Scholarship, the application is strongly encouraged; preference is given to those who apply. Students who wish to be considered for additional merit scholarships are encouraged to complete the Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholarship application.

Click Here for Merit Scholarship Application Questions 

To be considered for merit scholarships, students must first apply for admission separately by submitting the Common Application, Coalition Application, QuestBridge Application, or the Universal College Application to Vanderbilt. Within two business days of submitting your application for admission to Vanderbilt, you will receive an email from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions explaining how to create your online MyAppVU account. Under the Scholarship Application option in MyAppVU, you will be able to select the signature scholarship(s) to which you wish to apply. Through your MyAppVU portal, you will upload your responses for the scholarship applications as a PDF document and submit online. Once you submit your scholarship application online, you will receive immediate confirmation indicating the date of submission. You will also see a green check mark which indicates the application was submitted successfully. If you do not see a green check mark or date of submission, your application was not successfully submitted.

Students interested in being considered for the Additional Merit Scholarships (Carell Family, Curb Leadership, and Fred Russell-Grantland Rice) should submit the Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholarship application to be considered. 

Applications for all scholarships must be submitted by December 1, 2017 for prospective freshmen students.

To submit Vanderbilt Merit Scholarship Application(s):

  • Upload your Scholarship Application(s) via your MyAppVU account in PDF format only. You should receive immediate confirmation that your application was successfully submitted indicating the date of submission. A green check mark will also indicate the application was submitted successfully. Please emailscholarships@vanderbilt.eduif you do not see confirmation of receipt in MyAppVU.
          Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships
          Vanderbilt University
  2309 West End Avenue
          Nashville, TN 37203-1725

          Fax: (615) 343-8512


Step 2: Decide how you want to start your essay.

Instead of a paragraph describing what you do, you could use a tipping point in your journey to lead the discussion of the activity’s influence on you.


Weak example:In high school, I participated in model congress. It was very difficult for me at first, because I am not a great public speaker and don’t know much about politics. However, after a lot of research and many unimpressive performances at tournaments, I finally was able to overcome this at the Yale Model Congress tournament in my junior year where I was awarded best delegate after a speech in a full session of over a hundred students about environmental regulations, which I am very passionate about.


Stronger example:DECORUM!” A hush falls over the room with the sound of the gavel pounding against the desk. “Speakers for a two-minute speech in negation,” the chairman of our committee demands, looking out toward the hundreds of students dressed in Western business attire with their placards held high in the air. Mine meekly joins them.


“Senator Smith?” The chairman points the gavel directly at me and my face grows hot under the realization that I will have to give a speech in front of hundreds of more talented, better-spoken peers. When I arrive at the podium, I thumb the engraving that reads “Yale Model Congress 2016” and open my mouth. No sound comes out so I clear my throat twice.


“Senator Jones,” I start out weakly. “This proposed piece of legislation reminds me of my aunt’s chihuahua. All bark, no bite.” Scattered bouts of laughter erupt in the room. Subtle attempt at humor, check. “We all want to protect our environment, but this bill provides very little specifics, and the ones provided are a mere slap on the wrist for the huge corporations that pollute our rivers, lakes, air, and environment.”


You can clearly see how the beginnings of the two different essays differ in sentence structure, use of diction, imagery, and altogether effectiveness of displaying character and writing skills. Be careful to not go overboard with flowery language or fluff though; a 400-word limit requires you to be concise.


Your essay does not have to begin this way; you can start with a memory, a detailed description of an object or event you have built, or an excerpt of a speech or story you’ve penned. You have a lot of creative jurisdiction here, but the most important component to an introduction is the captivation of your audience.


Note: The stronger example weaved two different passions into one essay (model congress and environment conservation). You can definitely do this and it may lead to a stronger supplement, but be wary of trying to cram multiple unrelated extracurriculars into one essay. It will distract the reader from your message.


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