Eagle Scout College Essay Samples And Tips For Admission
One of the most dreaded parts of applying to colleges and universities are the supplemental essays. As an Eagle or Life Scout, you might be wondering how best to write about your Scouting experience — or maybe whether you should even include it at all (You should 🙂 ).
Worry no longer! In this article, we’ll be covering some of the best ways to make your Scouting experience shine on application essays and even the Common App. Plus, I’ve also pulled together some fantastic example essay passages so you can get a feel for the writing style of great college applications.
How Should You Write An Eagle Scout College Application Essay? When writing about your Scouting experience on a college application essay, your main goal should be to tell a story about personal growth. The essay should be free of acronyms and easily understandable. The best topics to write about, for most scouts, are their unique outdoor experiences, troop leadership roles, and Eagle Scout service project.
However, there’s a lot more that goes into a successful application! Carefully read the section below to learn the best methods of structuring your application essay. Then, we’ll be jumping into some real-life examples of the best ways you could write about your Scouting experience to really make your application stand out to an admissions committee!
How to Structure a College Admissions Essay
Do you know the ways your Scouting experience can help you stand out on a college application ? If you don’t, I’d highly suggest checking out the linked article! College admissions essays may be the trickiest documents you’ll ever write, as these personal statements require both conciseness and detail. Therefore, use everything you can to get a leg up! Your writing structure will be key to clearly communicating your message.
To create an effective structure, you first need to decide on your essay’s message. What is your main point for the beginning, middle, and end of your essay? Often, effective application essays begin with a story of a personal obstacle, guide your reader to the problem’s unexpected solution, and then end with a description of the lessons you’ve taken away from overcoming the challenge you’ve faced.
The Challenge->Solution->Takeaways structure is also effective when writing informative anecdotes in your essays. Here’s a quick excerpt showing of how I used this structure in one of my actual college application essays:
Challenge: In my freshman year of high school, a classmate and I were tasked with creating a joint presentation detailing the effects of GMOs on the environment. I had prepared my materials beforehand, so, naturally, I was excited to speak. My partner, however, had completely forgotten about the project and hastily began to plan a way out. Solution: After I’d delivered my portion of the presentation, complete with graphics and pie charts, I anxiously stepped aside and began mentally preparing for my partner to get us both laughed out of the room. To my dismay, my partner resourcefully rolled a short but informative Youtube video relating to the subject, and then, in a stroke of genius, improvised a quick activity. In seconds, the entire classroom was gleefully chanting the NATO phonetic alphabet parodied to GMO-related terminology! Takeaways: I was struck, and my B to his A was all it took to convince me that effort is not directly proportional to success. From that moment, I realized that I needed to think less about the work and product itself, and more about the audience that I was delivering my creation to.
I’m sure you have stories like this in your own life as well! In Scouting, maybe you thought you’d be a great leader right away, but later realized you needed to improve your approach. Maybe your path to Eagle had a few twists and turns. Either way, by using this structure, you can better place the reader in your shoes and guide them through an interesting and exciting journey.
Remember, the goal of your admissions essay should be to show as much of your personality to the reader as possible. Tell a story. Let them see you as a unique, endearing individual, and try to get them to like you. By describing a challenge, you show vulnerability and mark yourself as the kind of person who’s able to reflect, learn, and overcome difficulties.
Sample Outline For An Eagle Scouts Admission Essay
Now that you know how to effectively structure your story, it’s time to begin looking at a few essay samples that you can draw on for inspiration. As an Eagle Scout myself, there are 3 main Scouting topics and values I’d recommend writing about in your own application essays.
- Earning Eagle: Personal Growth and Persistence
- Leading Your Troop: Teamwork and Leadership
- Your Eagle Scout Service Project: Service and Contribution
Each of these three topics demonstrates values that are in high demand by universities. However, even if you don’t choose to write about these topics specifically, it’s still important to come up with a value-packed idea to serve as the core of your essay. I’d recommend watching the following video (8:51) for some great tips on coming up with your own essay idea.
Have a general idea for what you’ll be writing about? Great! Below, I’ll first be covering the best ways to capture your reader’s attention and frame your experiences. Then, with sample essays, I’ll be breaking down some of the best techniques for crafting a structurally-perfect application!
Capturing Your Reader’s Attention With Scouting
Your ‘hook,’ which serves to capture your reader’s attention, should be a concise but intriguing statement that reflects your personality. Hooks can take many different forms and engage the reader through the use of quotes, excamatory statements, or even questions.
Personally, this was the hook I used in one of my own college essays:
“Guten morgan, wie gehts. Ich heiß Cole. Ich bin seibzehn jahre alt.” I hear myself echo as I stand before my German class. Nervous, I mouth a half-smile and try to remain calm. Apprehensively making eye contact with the faces before me, even at a glance I can tell that this room is inhabited by people from all corners of the world. Judging from her defined jawline and shining blond hair, the girl who’s absentmindedly looking away appears to be Russian. The bespectacled boy with the tousled dark hair who wears a badly-translated t-shirt seemed to be distracted as well, reading from what I can only guess to be a Chinese dictionary. Another girl sits beside me, dressed in alternative clothing and sporting a septum piercing; judging from her edgy look, one would never have guessed she was from the suburbs of Rhode Island. Hearing the melody of birds chirping, I glance outside the window. On that beautiful Autumn afternoon in Switzerland, I see snow glistening on the Rhône glacier. It’s an enormous mass of brilliant blue hues, swirled together, filling the space between two gargantuan mountains: the Schwartz Horn and the Eiger. At that moment, a thought crosses my mind: “How on earth did I, just some kid from Hawaii, wind up in a place like this?”
While my introduction isn’t perfectly written, I think it does a solid job of capturing attention and pulling the reader down the page. Your essay should do the same! Keep in mind, my essay was about personal diversity and transitions, so this introduction really catered to my core theme. Your intro should also be informed by your essay’s main idea.
Now for some example hooks! If the focus of your essay is your Scouting experience, some possible hooks might be:
- I figured I’d peaked at the ripe old age of 13 years old when Scouting officially granted me the power to mobilize a legion of 12-year-olds in carrying out community service projects.
- I’ve recently come to the realization that community service just isn’t for me. Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.
- Inside the meeting room of South Church where I’d spent almost every Thursday night for the past six years, I held my breath as the whole troop stood by me awaiting a decision. What hung in the balance was the culmination of years of commitment and hard work since joining my Scout troop at age 12.
- Who’d have ever guessed that a single small disc made of fabric and glue was exactly what I needed to catalyze my passion for (Topic)? When I began working on the (Topic) merit badge…
Basically, the point of your hook is to first grab attention and then segway into a significant experience that will continue to intrigue your reader. Tell a story around your experience, then identify a key value that you’ve learned or embodied which will serve as the core of the essay.
In the next section, I’ll teach you to craft a thesis statement based on your core theme!
Eagle Scout Values as a Core Theme
Now that you know the point of your introduction, it’s time to get into the meat of your essay: your core theme. Your core theme should be based around the values that make you, you. Remember, a reader should be able to identify your core focus at least halfway through your essay. The most effective way to do this is with a thesis statement!
It might seem like you don’t need a thesis statement for an admissions essay but having one or two sentences to encapsulate your core theme will ensure that your essay is coherent from start to finish.
Using our examples from earlier, here’s what an effectively phased thesis might sound like:
- Earning Eagle: The 4 years it took me to earn Eagle taught me more about persistence, leadership, and growth than I’d learned in my previous 12 years of schooling. ( What you do now, in contrast to your first story)
- Leading Your Troop: In my time with troop (troop ), I’ve learned that skillful and supportive leadership can make any team greater than the sum of its parts. By appreciating each other’s faults and growing together, my patrol was able to put aside our differences and. ( reference story) ..
- Your Eagle Scout Service Project: Serving the ( Area ) community through my Eagle Scout Project was the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Through collaboration, sheer will, and an overwhelming desire to do good, I was able to bring together ( number ) volunteers over a total of ( time ) manhours, to (your result). Now, when faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges, I ( how you grew).
Remember, your thesis should perfectly suit your essay. Now that you know each of the ingredients for an amazing personal statement, it’s time to review some examples! Most of the experts agree that the best way to write well is to read good writing. Afterward, you’ll be ready to craft your own application and get that “Yes.” 🙂
Eagle Scout College Essay Samples and Examples
Below is a great excerpt from a personal statement that talks about a scout’s journey to Eagle. The writer does a fantastic job explaining the wide-ranging value of merit badges.
The Importance of Merit Badges
It was a long journey from an energetic adolescent to the mature man I am today. With every merit badge earned, I learned a valuable lesson about how to conduct my life. For example, the Personal Management merit badge taught me how to manage a budget. The Family Life badge gave me the skills to pitch in and help my parents run a household. Two trips to West Point Military Academy for Scout jamborees exposed me to cadets who were studying to be US Military officers and made me think about a military career. Source: https://www.collegeessayconfidante.com/sample-essays/
Leadership in Scouting
Leadership means holding yourself to a higher standard and putting your fellow scouts above yourself. In my last six years as a Scout, I have led others in finding their strengths, weaknesses, and encouraged boys to work as a team to accomplish a common goal. I started as an Assistant Patrol Leader and worked my way up to the highest leadership position, Senior Patrol Leader. Source: https://inlikeme.com/leadership-essay-scouts-effort/
Reflecting on How to be a Great Leader
While in Scouting, I took on multiple leadership roles and gradually became more involved in my troop. With those roles comes a great responsibility. Once you become involved and have responsibility, it is up to you how you want people to recognize you. You can be the leader who just points fingers and gives orders, or you can be the leader who teaches others how to do their job, is involved, is supportive and gives rewards when it is appropriate to do so. It may be difficult to do, but a true leader puts others before himself. Source: https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2014/01/14/what-scouting-did-for-me-a-recent-eagle-scout-tells-his-story/ Written by Ryan Eberlie
Your Eagle Scout Service Project
These experiences molded and shaped me. But the most significant experience came from completing my Eagle Project, during which I recorded the oral histories of eight war veterans from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. As I listened to their stories, I learned the meaning of self-sacrifice. The project took 140 hours—longer than a typical Eagle Project, but while I was working on it, I was not thinking about the time I was spending or even whether I would make Eagle if I completed the project. My only focus was on preserving the history of these noble citizens. That is when I understood why I felt no different the night my Scout leaders named me an Eagle Scout. It was because what was inside of me—a commitment to public service and a willingness to sacrifice—had been there all along. Also by Ryan Eberlie
Reading well-reviewed essay samples is something I did when crafting my own personal statement, and it definitely paid off! If you’re looking for more amazing personal statements to draw inspiration from, I’d highly recommend checking out the accepted essay collection from Johns Hopkins university
Now that you know what good writing sounds like, there are only a few more things you need to know to knock your personal statement out of the park! Firstly, try to place yourself in the admission’s officer’s shoes and connect your experience to what’s most relevant to them.
Consider, how will this experience help me at the school I’m applying to? What kinds of students are they really looking for? Have they seen an essay like mine before; is the story I’m telling unique enough? Use these questions to guide your writing, and connect your essay’s conclusion to your future ambitions. This, in itself, is a recipe for success!
Mistakes to Avoid on an Admissions Essay
Now that you’ve learned what to do when writing a college essay, it’s also important to keep in mind a list of things not to do. You’ll definitely want to avoid any cliche’s in your essay, and use impeccable grammar to convey your point. Remember, certain errors can make admissions officers immediately stop considering your application.
While we could spend hours talking about what not to do, I think the video (12:59) below does a great job of covering the most common mistakes students make. By avoiding these traps and improving your writing style by reading successful applications, every university will be dying to admit you!
General Tips To Keep in Mind While Writing Your Own Essay
In closing, here are 8 essential tips that you should keep front of mind when writing your essay. In this article, we’ve gone over a lot, but these points will help you to easily recall what we’ve covered so that you can write an incredible, engaging college essay!
- Conveying passion, critical thinking skills, and experiences, through a story, are key to making your application stand out.
- Essays should be free of grammatical errors. This is crucial! Get your English teacher to edit your essay, if possible.
- Don’t submit your first draft or even your second. Work and rework your drafts so that every word is strategically placed for maximum impact.
- Remember the Challenge->Solution->Takeaways structure we covered earlier. Use it to make your stories more engaging.
- After describing an experience, make sure you analyzing the skills that you’ve learned and developed as a result. Have clear introspection.
- Show your personality! Get the admissions officer to laugh or like you. Make it difficult for the reader to get bored or stop reading partway through.
- Read successful essays from previous years. By drawing on many sources, you’ll improve your writing and develop a unique style.
- Avoid common mistakes. Don’t use cliches and keep your essay flowing smoothly,
Got it? Awesome! With these tips, not only will you be able to craft an essay that’ll get you into your dream school — you’ll also be able to write competitively to win Eagle Scout Scholarships ! Click the link to check out my painless guide to finding (and winning!) financial opportunities that are exclusive to Eagle Scouts. 🙂
You’ve made it! To thank you for sticking with me to this point, below are a few facts you might consider mentioning to bolster your application essay. Numbers lend credibility to your personal statement and could help to better communicate your accomplishments. Use them if they fit your theme.
- You’re part of the 4% of scouts who’ve earned the rank of Eagle! Alternatively, you can emphasize that 96% of scouts don’t reach Eagle.
- You’ve likely completed 100’s of community service hours and lead ambitious projects. Mention that!
- At a minimum, you’ve spent 2 YEARS of your life involved in Scouting to become an Eagle Scout. If that isn’t commitment, I don’t know what is!
- You’ve earned at least 21 merit badges in an eclectic range of disciplines. The ability to master new skills is key to success in university.
At this point, if you’re not 120% sure of what you plan to write about, I’d highly recommend checking out my article on the 7 best skills to highlight on Eagle Scout college applications . If you exhibit these values in your own life, they might be the core idea of your accepted college application essay!
Give yourself a huge pat on the back for reading this far! That kind of persistence is also what helped you to reach Eagle, and likely what’ll get you into the university of your dreams. Wishing you all the best on your applications and beyond. 🙂
I'm constantly writing new content because I believe in Scouts like you! Thanks so much for reading, and for making our world a better place. Until next time, I'm wishing you all the best on your journey to Eagle and beyond!
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How to include Scouting experience on a job or college application
Five letters can say a whole lot.
By simply calling someone a “Scout,” you’re saying that person has strong moral character, is confident in the outdoors and has experience leading a team.
In fact, the Scouting name is so synonymous with positive attributes that master storyteller Stephen King included BSA references in more than half of his novels to date.
But there are some places where less isn’t more — where simply calling yourself a Scout won’t quite cut it.
When completing an application for college or a job, it’s not enough to just list Scouting as one of a half-dozen bullet points on your résumé. You need to explain the significance of that experience and how it shaped you.
That’s not just me talking. That’s the advice of the college admissions professionals we contacted last month for this comprehensive look at how colleges weigh an applicant’s Eagle Scout status when reviewing applications.
“While identifying oneself as an Eagle Scout is important, it is also critical to provide detailed information,” says Brandie Eneks, director of freshman admissions at Texas A&M University. “The essay provides a platform for Eagle Scouts to share any unique experiences they’ve had through Scouting.”
When you elaborate about your awards, leadership opportunities, volunteer hours and hands-on experiences, you’ll bring your Scouting experience into sharp focus and make your application soar to the top of the pile.
This advice isn’t just for Eagle Scouts
We spend a lot of time on this blog spotlighting the accomplishments of Eagle Scouts — and with good reason. These young people worked hard to complete the requirements for the highest honor in Scouts BSA.
But the Eagle Scout Award isn’t the sole mark of a Scouting experience worth including on an application. Even if your involvement in Scouting spanned a year or two, you had life-changing experiences worth sharing.
Below, we’ll show you how.
Why context matters
So why isn’t it enough to just list that you’re an Eagle Scout or spent however many years in a pack, troop, ship or crew?
Because colleges and employers want more than the “what.” They also want the “so what?”
Check out these excerpts from two fake-but-realistic résumés — both from the exact same Scout. Which reference to Scouting looks more impressive?
As Scouters, we know what it means to have four years of Scouting experience. It goes without saying that the young person completed service projects, earned merit badges and held leadership roles during that span.
But how would an application reader or hiring manager know that? They wouldn’t, so you have to show them.
Where should you include Scouting experience?
- On your résumé: Under volunteer experience, include an overview of your Scouting accomplishments. If you worked a paid job — at summer camp, for example — list that separately.
- Example 1: “I spent four years as a Scout in Troop 123. As senior patrol leader, I learned how to overcome setbacks, lead my peers and work in a productive team.”
- Example 2: “Sunset was just an hour away, but that night’s campsite was still 10 miles down the trail. As the leader of this group of Scouts — someone elected to get the job done — I had a decision to make.”
- In your application: Every college says they take a holistic approach to admissions, meaning they look at everything you send — not just your GPA and test scores. This means you’ll want to include your Scouting experience under sections like volunteer experience or extracurricular activities. If you’re given space to do so, include a few highlights (see the section “Why context matters” above).
- In your essay: Find the university’s mission statement. Which of the university’s stated values align closest with the values you learned in Scouting? In that overlap, you might find inspiration for your essay. If the university values innovation, talk about the time you invented a camp gadget using only the materials in your troop trailer. If the university values leadership, write about the way you led a group of Scouts on a 50-mile hike across rugged terrain.
How to spotlight service projects
Eagle Scout service projects check so many boxes. They show that the young person can manage a multifaceted project, create a budget, lead others and commit themselves to something that takes months to complete. All that, and we haven’t even mentioned the impact on the community.
If you’re an Eagle Scout, your service project should be included in your résumé or application. It also might form the backbone for a cover letter or admissions essay. Tell how you planned, developed and gave leadership to a project that required you to juggle a number of different priorities.
If you aren’t an Eagle Scout, choose any memorable community service project. Describe how the project ignited a passion for selfless service.
These words can be more impactful when paired with numbers, so include how many hours of volunteer time you’ve devoted to Scouting.
If you think it would help, you could also include the “value of volunteer time” calculation, available here . The nonprofit group Independent Sector has determined that each hour you volunteered in 2020 is worth $27.20 to the nation. If you have accumulated 100 hours of service in your Scouting career, that service is worth $2,720.
How to describe leadership experience
Scouting is unique among extracurriculars because it’s truly led by the youth. Make this as clear as possible by sharing how, as senior patrol leader or patrol leader, you planned an entire year of activities, including meetings, campouts and a weeklong canoeing trip.
This advice isn’t just for Scouts with two or three green bars on their sleeves. On a job application, describe how, as quartermaster, you prepared a detailed inventory for $3,000 in troop camping equipment. Or tell in a college essay how, as troop historian, you conducted interviews and historical research to prepare a video celebrating your troop’s 100th anniversary.
How to explain merit badges
The depth of a young person’s Scouting involvement will impress recruiters and application readers. These days, it’s exceedingly rare for young people to be involved in something for more than a year or two.
But the breadth of experiences available in Scouting deserve attention, as well. Every time a Scout earns a merit badge, they gain skills in a subject area with real-world value.
Employers want to hire people who have many talents and can adapt to the ever-changing needs of the workplace.
Colleges want to admit people who demonstrate a range of skills and show a willingness to learn new things.
Share both the number of merit badges you earned and a few specific examples. I’m a big fan of sets of three, so I recommend including a curated trio. But don’t just pick the first three you completed or even those you believe to be the most impressive.
Choose merit badges that demonstrate your skills have more applications than a Swiss Army knife. If you earned a merit badge that has a direct link to the job or university, include that one for sure.
For example, if you’re applying for an after-school job at a pet store and have earned the Pets merit badge, list it. If you’re hoping to major in anthropology and earned the American Cultures merit badge, be sure to say so.
How to include high-adventure experiences
No college or employer wants to read about your vacation. So it’s a good thing your high-adventure experiences are anything but a lazy week at the beach.
Scouting trips lasting a week or longer are memorable for more than the trips themselves. They require months (or years) of planning, training and fundraising.
The story isn’t that you got to go kayaking in Alaska or hiking along the Appalachian Trail. It’s about everything leading up to the trip. It’s about the hurdles you overcame along the way. It’s about how you came back changed forever.
Three other quick tips
- Don’t rely on jargon . Don’t assume everyone knows common Scouting terms like “merit badge,” “senior patrol leader” or “National Jamboree.” Briefly explain why these mattered to you.
- But don’t leave out keywords, either . Building off that previous point, you also don’t want to totally omit Scouting keywords. This is especially important as some employers move to computerized résumé scanners that automatically organize and rate applicants. If you’re an Eagle Scout but only say that you “earned the highest award in the Boy Scouts of America,” the employer might overlook the honor completely.
- Plan for the interview, too . If you make it to a job interview (or if a college on your list conducts applicant interviews), consider how your Scouting experience might be showcased verbally. Interviewers often use your résumé to find icebreakers, and your time in Scouting might be what they choose. Be Prepared to tell your Scouting story by rehearsing it with friends or family.
By following these steps, you’ll demonstrate to the hiring manager or college admissions counselor that Scouting isn’t just another extracurricular activity. It’s a movement that prepares young people for life.
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An Eagle Scout Statement of Ambitions and Life Purpose is a short essay, written by an Eagle Scout candidate, that describes their goals, values, and mindsets. Often, these statements are about 500 words in length and are broken into 4 parts: Intro, short-term goals, long-term goals, and life purpose. PS.
In this article, we’ll be covering some of the best ways to make your Scouting experience shine on application essays and even the Common App. Plus, I’ve also pulled together some fantastic example essay passages so you can get a feel for the writing style of great college applications.
If you’re an Eagle Scout, your service project should be included in your résumé or application. It also might form the backbone for a cover letter or admissions essay.
Eagle Application Life Purpose Statement / Resume My plans for high school and beyond are probably different from the dreams and ambitions of most kids. Some kids want to go into a field that will land a secure job that involves sitting behind a desk. Others study their profession right out of high school, and land a
Letter of Ambition Eagle Requirement #7 . Requirement #7 for Eagle Scout is an essay about your personal Life Goals. It is submitted along with your Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project Workbook and Eagle Scout Rank Application. The essay should be written in paragraph form and include both your short term and long term goals.
The BSA Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook is your guide to everything you need to complete the last step on the road to becoming an Eagle Scout!