The Modern Shopping Centre Essay Scholarships

Sometimes it’s all about perspective. Yale asked that I describe something “impactful” in my life — that was the theme of the supplemental essay I needed to write the year I applied. Like many classmates, I chose to describe the summer before my senior year.

But there was a big difference between how I and my ambitious classmates passed the time that year. They all outdid each other—and definitely me—with exotic tales of summers spent abroad in far-flung destinations or filled with worthy volunteer work or by snagging “cool” internships.

Me? I worked at the mall. If I wanted to big it up, I worked at New York City’s Manhattan Mall, a shopping complex in the center of Midtown that had the advantage of carrying all my favorite brands (hello, staff discount!). While the gig impacted my bank account, I wasn’t sure it would impress Yale’s admissions board.

There’s pressure to write applications that focus on a big, defining moment, but capturing a slice of life can be just as powerful.

As the start of senior year loomed closer, I knew I’d be tasked with answering the inevitable question: What did you do this summer? I practiced how I would respond so that I could tell the truth without embarrassment. “I spent my summer working at the mall” became my mantra.

Over time, something peculiar started to happen. The more I said it, the more I realized that the experience was impactful. I may not have been working at a soup kitchen or going on a safari, but it was a summer that had worth, at least to me. I decided to make this seemingly mundane, minimum-wage job the focus of my essay for Yale. And that’s exactly how I set up my intro:

I wish I could say that last summer I found a cure for cancer or ended world hunger, but all I can honestly tell people is that I worked at the mall for minimum wage…. It seemed to be a good match: I liked shopping, and I loved people.  

Did I love the job? No, of course not. The tasks that kept me on my feet all day — like tagging and hanging merchandise — were mind-numbing. But the experience was not without meaningful life lessons in commitment, follow-through and taking pride in my work — all concepts that I used to anchor my essay:

As I worked, I began to notice things, such as how frequently customers dropped merchandise that they then left on the floor for an employee to pick up, and realized how oblivious I had been as just a shopper. I was exposed to a new perspective in an environment I was already familiar with.

As a rising junior at Yale, I’m now studying psychology on the neuroscience track, but I haven’t forgotten that summer I spent working at the mall. As I wrote, the “job most certainly was not life-altering, but it was eye-opening, and I did gain much more than money from it.” One thing that’s stayed with me the most is that I was exposed to a new perspective in a place I thought I knew so well.

I learned a valuable lesson from writing my essay as well. There’s pressure to write applications that focus on a big, defining moment, but capturing a slice of life can be just as powerful, and can arguably say more about an applicant. In the end, I chose a topic that expressed who I was as a person, and I think that made an impression.

Note: Read Alice Oh’s full essay at Admitsee or peruse other college applications from real students.

Recommended for you

If you’re a skilled writer, a few hundred (or even a thousand) words is no biggie.

Students that can easily express themselves through writing flock toward scholarships with interesting essays and the scholarships on this list are just that.

All of the below scholarships require an essay entry – some as short as only 250 words – with interesting essay topics that range from safe driving and technology to America heroes and animal activism.

To help better organize your scholarship and internship search, please note that the following scholarships for writers are listed according to deadline, with the earliest deadline appearing at the top of the page. Deadlines that vary will appear at the bottom of each list.

If you enjoy expressing your opinions through writing, the scholarships on this list await your entries.

Scholars Helping Collars

Deadline: 2/15/18
Available to: High School Seniors
Award Amount: $1,000

The Scholars Helping Collars Scholarship is open to current high school seniors. You must submit an essay of between 500 and 1000 words with two to three photos of your volunteer efforts to help animals in need and how that involvement has changed your lives or shaped your perceptions on the importance of animal welfare in order to be considered for this award.

Learn more about the Scholars Helping Collars.

Live Deliberately Essay Contest

Deadline: 3/15/18
Available to: Ages 13-21 Years
Award Amount: 3 Awards of $250

The Live Deliberately Essay Contest is open to all students aged 14 – 21. You must submit an essay of no more than 750 words based on the prompts listed on the sponsor’s website. This year’s prompts will ask you to consider a time in your life when you pursued a path that was “narrow and crooked,” but felt like it was the right path for you. In what ways are/were you able to, as Thoreau advises, walk that path with “love and reverence?” How has navigating that path shaped you into the person you are becoming?

Learn more about the Live Deliberately Essay Contest .

AFSA High School Essay Contest

Deadline: 3/15/2018
Available to: High School Freshmen through High School Seniors
Award Amount: $2,500

The AFSA High School Essay Contest is open to high school students. To be considered, in a 1,000 – to 1250 – word essay, you must identify two cases – one you deem successful and one you deem unsuccessful – where the U.S. pursued an integrated approach to build peace in a conflict – affected country.

Learn more about the AFSA High School Essay Contest .

Brighter Future Scholarship

Deadline: 3/31/2018
Available to: College Freshmen through Graduate Students, Year 5
Award Amount: $500

The Brighter Future Scholarship is available to undergraduate, graduate or law students enrolled at an accredited college or university. You must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit 500 word letter of intent that identifies a problem and explains how you intend to use your education as a way to begin solving that problem, thus creating a brighter future.

Learn more about the Brighter Future Scholarship.

NPG 2018 Scholarship Contest

Deadline: 4/20/2018
Available to: High School Seniors through College Juniors
Award Amount: Awards from $750-$2,000

The NPG 2018 Essay Scholarship Contest is open to high school seniors and college freshmen, sophomores and juniors. You must submit an essay of between 500 and 750 words on one environmental issue from the sponsor’s chosen list and explain how it is made worse by population growth and describe what measures you would recommend our nation’s leaders take to ensure we protect our fragile environment for generations to come. You must also be a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident to qualify for this award.

Learn more about the NPG 2018 Scholarship Contest.

E-Waste Scholarship

Deadline: 4/30/2018
Available to: High School Freshmen through Graduate Students, Year 5
Award Amount: $1,000

The E-waste Scholarship is available to high school, undergraduate or graduate students. You must submit a short statement that completes the sentence “The most important reason to care about e-waste is…” and be U.S. citizen or legal resident to qualify for this award.

Learn more about the E-Waste Scholarship.

Feldco Scholarship

Deadline: 6/15/2018
Available to: College Freshmen through College Seniors
Award Amount: $1,000

The Feldco Scholarship is available to current and prospective college students. To be considered, you must submit a 700 – to 1000 – word essay on the following topic: “How has your family contributed to who you are today?”

Learn more about the Feldco Scholarship.

Immigration Scholarship Essay Contest

Deadline: 7/01/2018
Available to: High School Seniors through Graduate Students, Year 5
Award Amount: $1,500

The Immigration Scholarship Essay Contest is open to U.S. citizens attending or planning to attend an accredited college or university. You must submit an essay of between 800 and 1000 words on one of the five topics related to immigration listed on the sponsor’s website in order to qualify for this award.

Learn more about the Immigration Scholarship Essay Contest.

Love Your Career Scholarship

Deadline: 9/10/2018
Available to: College Freshmen through Graduate Students, Year 5
Award Amount: $1,000

The Love Your Career Scholarship is available to students attending an accredited college or university. You must submit an essay of at least 1,000 words describing at least three steps that you plan to take in the next year to start a path towards having a career that you love in order to qualify for this award. Topics may include: What are your passions that could be turned into a career? What are some ideas you have for a business based on things that you love and are skilled at? You must also interview a professional in your chosen field that has at least three years of experience.

Learn more about the Love Your Career Scholarship.

MajGen Harold W. Chase Prize Essay Contest

Deadline: Varies
Available to: College Freshmen through College Seniors
Award Amount: $3,000

Sponsored by the Marine Corps Gazette, the MajGen Harold W. Chase Prize Essay Contest is open to all Marines on active duty and to members of the Selected Marine Corps Reserve.

The contest honors the essay that proposes and argues for a new and better way of “doing business” in the Marine Corps.

Learn more information about the MajGen Harold W. Chase Prize Essay Contest.

Mary Grant Charles Prize Scholarship

Deadline: Varies
Available to: College Freshmen through College Seniors
Award Amount: Varies

The Mary Grant Charles Prize Scholarship is open to undergraduate students at Tufts University.

You must possess the same creative qualities in the writing of prose and poetry to qualify for this award.

Preference is given to students whose writing reflects an interest in ancestry and genealogy.

Get more information on the Mary Grant Charles Prize Scholarship.

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