Industry Education & Insight

College and scholarship applications ask students to write hundreds of thousands of words all centered around themselves, and yet reviewers repeatedly say that arrogance is the number one thing that will turn them off from reading a student’s file. At the same time, there are students each year who are declined from selection processes not because they aren’t incredibly competitive and compelling, but because they’ve failed to fully own their achievements. We get it. It’s a mind-bender. That’s why we spend one whole section of our book, All the Wisdom and None of the Junk detailing strategies for how to own your accomplishments without sounding arrogant. The trick to striking the right balance between humility and confidence is to objectively discuss your achievements in a straightforward and factual way. This will invariably serve you better than being overly humble and therefore masking your impact or being overly proud and thereby overstating your contributions. So if you’re the president of the club, don’t tell us you “participated.” State the fact that you led it…and then stop short of aggrandizing yourself with modifiers that can rub committee members the wrong way. We give actual examples in the book, but some of these inflated adverbs are “single-handedly,” “expertly,” and “superbly.” Simply tell us what you did and leave it to us and your recommendation writers to praise you for it. Better to quantify your contributions (like citing the number of people served or dollars raised) and let those accomplishments speak for themselves. For deeper insight into this tip and other secrets of applying for college admission and scholarships, check out our new book All the Wisdom and None of the Junk. It gives students inside information – but only what they truly need to create exceptional college and scholarship applications. Learn more....

Over the years we have read thousands upon thousands of scholarship essays. And yet despite that massive amount, the types of mistakes we see tend to fall into similar categories. Generally speaking, effective essays are emotionally honest and give insight into who the applicant is as a person. They illustrate genuine motivation and goals, rather than superficial or heavy-handed interest in issues or accomplishments that students THINK we want them to care about. Boiled down, here are the most common essay mistakes we see: The essay reiterates the resume or transcript. Don’t fill your valuable essay space with information that can easily be found in other parts of your application. Students write more about another person than themselves. Many essay prompts will ask about a person you admire or who has influenced you. Even though you’re talking about someone else, make sure that you and what you’ve learned from the other person are the focus of your personal essay. Students write more about the issue than themselves. Again, some essay prompts will ask you to write about an issue or you may simply want to do so because it matters to you. Although you’re passionate about it, don’t make the mistake of writing more about the issue than about why it’s important to you. The essay is more about what happened than its significance. Don’t build up the tension with a great story that never ties back to its effect on you as a person. The student writes about challenges but doesn’t illustrate growth. Challenges and obstacles can be some of the most compelling elements of college or scholarship applications—that is, if applicants are able to demonstrate how they’ve overcome their circumstances and grown as a result. For deeper insight into this tip and other secrets of applying for college admission and scholarships, check out our new book All the Wisdom and None of the Junk. It gives students inside information – but only what they truly need to create exceptional college and scholarship applications. Learn more....

The reality of reading applications is that review committee members read tons of them in one sitting. So it's tough when we pick up the 10th application that's clearly trying to impress rather than just owning who the person is. You know what we mean - we've all been in that social situation where someone pretends to like something just to get in with the cool clique and everyone else looks at each other uncomfortably. It’s painfully obvious when people aren’t being themselves. Sure, you can write about weighty issues like climate change or worldwide poverty, but only if you are really passionate about them write in your natural voice make reviewers want to meet you in person by sharing your genuine self Otherwise, we'd much rather read about your love of BBQ or why Marvel is better than DC (or vice versa). Being authentic illustrates healthy self-awareness, expressiveness and self-regard. Plus, if you write about something you’re honestly passionate about in your application, then you’ll write with enthusiasm. And that enthusiasm will be catching. For deeper insight into this tip and other secrets of applying for college admission and scholarships, check out our new book All the Wisdom and None of the Junk. It gives students inside information – but only what they truly need to create exceptional college and scholarship applications. Learn more....

Far too often applicants shy away from sharing the most interesting parts of themselves. As a result, their applications are flat and generic – nothing like the intriguing and multi-dimensional people writing them. Lest you hesitate to fly your geek flag and fully embrace your quirks in something so imposing as a college application, let us count the reasons why we love it when students do: People are fascinating and students who let their unique identities shine through their applications automatically hook us, Nothing is more compelling than someone owning his or her own space, Quirks are inherently distinctive, so sharing yours makes your application stand out from the pile, Embracing your eccentricities – and sharing them with strangers – demonstrates courage and self-awareness, Sharing your individuality allows us to see the person behind the application and really get to know you, Seeing the person behind the application (#5) makes reviewers want to meet you in person by inviting you to an interview or to visit campus, Knowing more about you allows selection committee members to better see how you’ll fit with their incoming class and institution, Illustrating how your particular passions translated into extra courses or other intellectual pursuits (like organizing El Dia de Los Muertos celebrations or re-enacting Renaissance jousts in authentic regalia) bolsters your academic profile by highlighting your intellectual curiosity, And did we mention that all this makes your application far more interesting to read because you sound like your own inimitable self and not like everyone else? The key is to write about topics that you actually enjoy – not that you think the committee WANTS you to enjoy. So let your dorkily unbridled pastime or your unabashed owning of your own personality sweep us up in its enthusiasm. For deeper insight into this tip and other secrets of applying for college admission and scholarships, check out our new book All the Wisdom and None of the Junk. It gives students inside information – but only what they truly need to create exceptional college and scholarship applications. Learn more....

Specific wording can make or break a college or scholarship application. Avoid the widespread mistake of over-generalizing or leaving too much to interpretation by shifting your perspective to that of the reviewers. Think about it: while you may know exactly what you contributed to an activity just by mentioning its name, strangers reading your application won't. As reviewers, all we have to go on is what you write. So being specific and detailed in quantifying your contributions is incredibly important. It’s one thing, for example, to write “Food Bank Volunteer,” and another to write “Volunteered 20 hours per week during junior year to collect canned food and coordinated food basket distribution with local food bank.” It's also key to elaborate on – and not repeat – the information in the basic Activity Section if the application you’re completing has an additional “Detailed Activities Section,” which many do. These sections give you more space to describe the three or four activities that mean the most to you – and space to explain why. Sometimes left blank and often misjudged, detailed activity sections can be capitalized on, giving reviewers even more insight into your motivation and commitment while also demonstrating that you care enough to follow instructions and give review committees the information they've asked you to provide. For deeper insight into this tip and other secrets of applying for college admission and scholarships, check out our new book All the Wisdom and None of the Junk. It gives students inside information – but only what they truly need to create exceptional college and scholarship applications. Learn more....

By Katy Craig, Director of Strategic Initiatives The Boettcher Foundation’s coaching program is showing early success in helping our community of Boettcher Scholars and Boettcher Investigators to reach new heights in their chosen professions, family and personal lives. Recently, I shared some insights from current and former coaching clients who shared some of their initial concerns, questions and misconceptions about coaching, as well as the reality and benefits they encountered along the way. Another major question I hear from our busy, actively engaged community members is results-oriented—where’s the data? Well, the impact of coaching is supported by a number of industry studies. So much so that it’s being incorporated into the MBA programs of some of the top business schools in the country, and many Fortune 500 companies are investing in coaching for their employees, citing a return on investment of at least seven times the initial investment. Closer to home, Boettcher community members are seeing real results in achieving their goals and expanding their leadership. Specifically, community members appreciate the differences they’ve seen in balancing responsibilities, particularly in times of stress. “Coaching enhanced my self-awareness when undergoing stress in everyday life. I was able to develop techniques that improved my productivity and balance between school, work, and personal life,” said Fernando, a 2016 Boettcher Scholar and coaching client. 2015 Boettcher Scholar and coaching client, Kayla, agreed, citing reframing as one particular strategy she further developed through coaching. “Coaching taught me how to look at situations differently,” she said. “I've been able to focus more on how I interact with situations and people, and how to change those interactions for the better. Coaching helped me get a little bit more out of every day by helping me realize what is important to me.” The other benefit our community members often cite is having the dedicated time for reflection, and subsequent changes in behavior due to their renewed clarity. “Coaching provided me with several insights about myself and tools to apply to my professional life,” Chris, a 2012 Boettcher Scholar, said. “I came away with a better understanding of my strengths and why I do the work that I do. Additionally, I found coaching helped me uncover a better way to talk about myself. I am now able to describe myself with powerful language that highlights the ‘who’ instead of the ‘what.’ This skill has been incredibly valuable in applying for jobs, interviewing and meeting new people.” Boettcher community members also echo research showing that coaching is particularly effective in developing high-potential leaders, helping them visualize and achieve higher levels of success. “Coaching reminded me of the many ways I could still surprise myself and how it's never too late to stretch into something new,” said Matt, a 1998 Boettcher Scholar. Finally, those being coached express appreciation for the benefits they’ve gained both professionally and personally. “My personal benefits from being co-actively coached since 2015 include increased resiliency with family, improved self-care, more celebrations for milestones reached in 2016 than last year, and better balance among work, passions and family,” said Beth, a 1977 scholar and coaching client who has since become a coach herself. “The confidential coaching time is a blessing. Nowhere else do I have that focused, personal, safe space, just for me to reflect, react, dream, emote and strategize.” While Boettcher coaching clients all cited different benefits, they were united in their gratitude for the experience and their perception that it had been a positive investment of their time and energy. “I LOVE coaching! It has been one of the most beneficial things I have done in college,” said Jo, a 2014 Boettcher Scholar. “It helped me engage the skills I have, understand myself and how that fits into the world around me and was generally a lot of fun.” The bottom line is that the foundation wants each of our community members to excel at whatever endeavors they choose. We believe that investing in their hard work and leadership will enable them to give back for years to come. Coaching is just one way we further invest in our community. For more information or a free sample coaching session, please contact me at katy@boettcherfoundation.org.  ...

By Katy Craig, Director of Strategic Initiatives As you may recall, the Boettcher Foundation has launched a coaching program aimed at helping our funding recipients further develop their leadership characteristics. We believe that by helping our community of Boettcher Scholars and Boettcher Investigators become more effective leaders, we can help them make an even bigger difference in their personal and professional pursuits, enabling them to have an even bigger impact in our communities. Eighteen months in, we’re gaining valuable insights not only into the impact our program is having, but also into why people choose to be coached – and why they might resist it. For example, an informal survey of our coaching clients recently revealed more than 84 percent of those being coached say that coaching has helped them consider ways to intentionally navigate change, and 79 percent said they explicitly expanded their self-awareness. But what I find more interesting is that when asked to talk about their experiences, those being coached talk about their questions and concerns on the front end, followed by what’s different now. Several clients, who have been pleased with the results of their coaching, agreed to share their insights so that others might get a better sense of what to expect. One of the biggest questions most of them had before they began coaching was simply whether coaching was right for them. That makes sense. There are a lot of misconceptions about what coaching is and who can benefit from it. Many people think that the purpose of coaching is to address poor performance. But, in reality, coaching can help anyone get more of what they want out of life, making them both more fulfilled and more successful. “At first, I believed that something had to be wrong in order for me to reach out for coaching,” said Fernando, a 2016 Boettcher Scholar and coaching client. “As I was coached, I realized that I was completely wrong in my initial thoughts. In fact, coaching did not suggest any changes, instead, it served as a strategic platform for personal refection. I found that I was reaching my own conclusion after every phone session simply by answering my own questions. My coach provided the environment for me to be completely true and honest with myself.” Others may worry that coaching is not for them because of their field or level of career. Sometimes they’ve heard stories that it’s too “touchy-feely” for business-minded executives or others who work in traditionally analytical professions. That was true for Melanie, a Boettcher Investigator who initially thought coaching “wouldn’t apply to a scientist” but quickly saw the benefits to her career. “I feel like I have been learning to be a coach, and am much more comfortable managing my own staff and helping them to reach their full potential, rather than me telling them what to do,” she said. In fact, Melanie has found coaching so relevant and impactful that she’s talked to her division chief about bringing her coach in to meet with her group. Another common concern among coaching clients was simply whether it will be weird. They worried that talking about themselves would feel uncomfortable or self-indulgent. Most wrestled at some level with feeling a little selfish for taking time for themselves through coaching, and worried that things they said would come across wrong. “Before I tried coaching, I wasn't really sure what to think of it,” said 2010 Boettcher Scholar and coaching client Lanna. “I thought, ‘Is this like going to a therapist? Am I going to be sharing my weirdest self with people I respect quite a lot (and who don't know I'm weird yet)?’” Once she tried coaching, though, Lanna realized she did not feel awkward at all during her time with her coach. “My coach acted as a confidential sounding board for my ideas, concerns and goals, and helped me use my own introspection to guide action and results.” Lanna also shared another common concern, which is the perceived time commitment. Many Boettcher community members have heard of coaching programs that require extra reading and work in addition to multiple sessions a month. That kind of commitment can turn away highly engaged individuals with already-full lives. But here’s the bottom line: everything that you do (or don’t do) as a result of coaching is your choice. Those enrolled in the Boettcher coaching program sign up for two 45-minute coaching sessions per month at times and on days that work for them. Then they decide on their own action items at the end of each call, and these activities are typically carried out within their everyday activities. The opportunity is not to add something additional on top of your other responsibilities, but to approach your existing responsibilities differently because of coaching. “The time commitment was minimal, and the results were absolutely worth the time I dedicated to the process,” Lanna added. “Coaching helped me distill from the chaos of daily life what was really important to me, and helped me make my goals tangible and ascertainable. I felt like a much stronger and more self-aware person after just a few coaching sessions.” Jo, a 2014 scholar and client agreed, adding that “A couple hours a month with a coach was all it took to make a noticeable difference in my life, and I feel satisfied having spent that time working on myself because I see the benefits of it going into what I do time and time again.” Such feedback from our coaching clients has helped to reinforce the value of the Boettcher Foundation’s investment in coaching for investigators and scholars. Next month, I will share insights from coaching clients about the direct impact coaching has had on them. But if your interest is already piqued and you’d like more information or a free sample coaching session, please contact me at katy@boettcherfoundation.org.  ...

The following article appeared in the September 12 issue of the National Scholarship Providers Association’s Scholarship Times newsletter. In it, Tiffany Anderson, our scholarship program director, describes the Boettcher Foundation's efforts to quantitatively track the impact of our scholarship program. As scholarship providers, we often wonder if our scholarships are actually having the intended impact on students. Anecdotally, we hear about the amazing things scholarship recipients do after graduating, but quantitatively measuring the impact can be difficult. That’s why at the Boettcher Foundation, we decided to embark on a nine-month evaluation process. For more than 60 years, Boettcher Scholars have gone on to accomplish great things. They become Marshall and Rhodes scholars, Nobel laureates, nationally renowned doctors, accomplished politicians and even famous actors. Beyond receiving what is essentially a merit-based fullride scholarship to any Colorado institution, they gain access to a vast network of alumni leaders. Scholars often say that the “Boettcher connection” is what propelled their achievements beyond college, and helped in finding their best friends, business partners and future investors. So, we decided to transform the anecdotes into quantitative metrics that would show whether the Boettcher Scholarship has been successful in meeting our goal— keeping the best and brightest in-state for college, and connecting and engaging the community so they become better leaders, community servants and philanthropists. Not only would we be able to communicate the value of the scholarship—and the impact of the Boettcher Foundation’s original investment in each scholar—but the evaluation would also inform our future programming efforts and the way we engage with scholars and alumni. To effectively measure 60-years’ worth of impact and ensure validity, we contracted with the Denver-based company, Quantitative Research Evaluation & Measurement (QREM), which has experience in evaluating programs and scholarships, including the multi-state Daniels Fund Scholarship. Our hypothesis was that the research would show that Boettcher Scholars are serving, leading and giving back at a higher rate than the compare group. QREM developed a set of questions focused on leadership, service and philanthropy that could be compared to the general U.S. population. To test our theory, QREM constructed a survey which incorporates commonly-used questions that can be directly compared with sources like the National Time Use Survey, the U.S. Census and other public records. For example, questions about workplace ethics directly correlate with achievement and service and one’s ability to be promoted to a formal leadership role within a company. Voting-habit questions are used on a national scale to ascertain volunteerism and service ethic. Evaluating the Boettcher Scholarship was a nine-month process, which is just now nearing completion. Throughout this evaluation project, involving key stakeholders was critical, whether it was interviewing internal staff or including our Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board as alpha survey testers. As we approach the official survey launch, we look forward to using the results to better communicate our decades-long story and to express the return on the initial investment of the Boettcher family, and the Boettcher Foundation on each individual. And though we are constantly seeking ways to better engage our network, our commitment to the state remains the same—supporting the dynamic thinkers and leaders who will propel Colorado forward....

By Katy Craig, Director of Strategic Initiatives From Little League to the Olympics, we all recognize the value of having a coach in sports. But we may not think about how valuable a coach can be in our daily lives, in helping us understand our values, in achieving our goals and in supporting us through our leadership development. And yet this type of coaching is an immensely successful method of integrating new skills and behaviors in adults – skills and behaviors that they themselves choose to develop. For that reason, Boettcher Foundation has decided to invest in coaching for the Boettcher community. We’ve supported a group of scholar alumni through professional coach training who can now give back to Boettcher Scholars via confidential coaching. Coaching has been proven to be one of the most effective means of solidifying growth and leadership development. In fact, companies around the world such as GE, Goldman Sachs and Google regularly invest in coaching for their employees due to its significant power in helping them clarify their goals and produce results. A recent Forbes article showed that the return on investment for coaching is seven times the initial investment. Personally, I’ve had the opportunity to become a certified professional coach as part of the Boettcher Foundation’s coaching corps. As a coach, I love to hold the ground and create the space for others to grow in their power. My coaching focuses on leadership development and enhancing existing strengths and passions. It's a focused relationship designed to serve the coachee and for them to get more of what they want, accomplish their goals and make the most positive impact on the world. I love coaching because it's empowering. It encourages continuous stretching and breaking down barriers that the coachee previously didn't see or didn't think were possible to overcome. As one of my fellow coaching corps members, Kara Penn says, "Coaching is dynamic, collaborative and engages one’s whole life—not just work or school. How refreshing and empowering not to be siloed into one area of our lives!" I've had my own coach for years, and what I love about her is that she helps me to really get clear on what I think and feel, as well as what I want to do and—more  importantly—who I want to be in the world. She calls me forth to be the best version of myself. So, what exactly is coaching? Coaching is not about misplaced optimism. It is about heightening your awareness of habitual behaviors and thoughts so you can bolster those that serve you and manage those that don't. It's about focusing on self-awareness and realizing that you control your thoughts and attitude. Coaching is also not an endless to do list. It’s an opportunity to make the most of what you’re already doing. The coach doesn't give advice or pass judgment, he or she asks powerful questions to help spur your own thinking as you clarify your most resonant desires and values. Coaching is an act of self-compassion, as it gives you focused time to reflect with someone who has no agenda for you, no stake in what you do or do not do. It is a space that is free of criticism, where you can rediscover your own passions and values. Topics for individual sessions can be anything. I've coached people around transitions such as starting a degree program or looking to change careers, the illness or death of a loved one, roommate issues, not knowing what they want to do with their lives, diffusing self-limiting beliefs, wanting more fun and recreation and all kinds of other things. Whatever the reason people have come to coaching, and whatever the individual topics are, the feedback we’ve received has been extremely positive. Being a small part of that kind of transformation is incredibly fulfilling, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to extend this resource to scholars. If you'd like to learn more or are interested in confidential coaching by a Boettcher Scholar who is a member of our coaching corps, email Marisa@boettcherfoundation.org.  ...

The following article appeared in the October 8 issue of the National Scholarship Providers Association’s Scholarship Times newsletter. In it, Tiffany Anderson, our scholarship program director, explained the process the Boettcher Foundation engaged in when it opened its scholarship application process to students meeting the requirements for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival. The Boettcher Foundation marked a historic first this spring when we selected our first scholar who is not a United States Citizen or Permanent Resident. Veronica Fernandez-Diaz, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) qualified student, is attending Colorado College, developing an individually structured major in the social sciences. She will undoubtedly be making an impact on her campus and in the Colorado community in the coming years. That impact will now be multiplied through the opportunities afforded to her through the Boettcher Scholarship. The Boettcher Foundation Scholarship has been in existence since 1952, helping to keep some of Colorado’s most talented students in the State of Colorado. We award essentially full-ride scholarships for Colorado high school students to attend Colorado collegiate institutions,allowing them to take advantage of a Colorado education, form their networks locally, and make their impact right here at home. With an incredible pool of high-caliber candidates, we choose the students we feel will have the biggest impact on their universities and communities. Those students come from all types of backgrounds, educational settings and family situations. Until this past year, however, our eligibility requirements excluded a subset of Colorado high school students from applying. Recognizing that Colorado’s demographics have shifted since the inception of the scholarship program, our board of trustees and foundation staff began working toward increasing access and opportunity for all students to apply. We increased recruitment to diverse populations and adjusted our academic eligibility requirements during our 2013-2014 selection cycle. In June of 2012, it was announced that individuals who came to the United States as children and meet several key guidelines may request consideration of deferred action (details on those requirements can be found here). This meant we had the opportunity to reexamine our previous eligibility requirements to now include these students who were no longer in the United States unlawfully. During the fall of 2013, we received multiple inquiries from high school students who wanted to apply for the Boettcher Scholarship and fell into this new qualification. This issue rose to the forefront when, in February of 2014, we had just named our finalists for that year and were preparing for interviews - a very exciting time of year for the scholarship program. As we were finalizing the interview schedule, we got a call from one of the finalists who, based on her accolades and experiences, we were anxiously anticipating meeting. With a tearful voice she told us she was withdrawing her application. Unlike other candidates who withdraw at this point in our process, she had not decided to go out of state or received another scholarship offer; this young lady had misunderstood our eligibility requirements and had just discovered she was not eligible to compete. She had come to the United States as a child and now met the requirement for Deferred Action; however, she was not a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident. Unfortunately, according to our established citizenship eligibility requirements (based on the recently outdated federal regulations), she was not eligible to compete for the Boettcher Scholarship. First, I want to say that we worked to find this young woman other resources, and she is currently in her second year of college. However, with the shift in this federal policy and our increased awareness of the Colorado student population that fell into these qualifications, it became apparent that we needed to revisit our eligibility requirements. This incident accelerated us along the process of making this change and adjusting our eligibility requirements to include  DACA students, giving them the opportunity to compete for our scholarship. Knowing we are a private foundation set up to exist in perpetuity, we wanted to ensure that any change we made to our long-established eligibility requirements was done so very thoughtfully. Over the course of 2014, we worked with other local scholarship providers who had already made this shift (the Denver Scholarship Foundation specifically) learning from their process, best practices and mistakes. We reached out to our partner collegiate institutions, many of which had already been working with this population of students or were in the process of figuring out how to support them. Finally, we sought out legal experts in both nonprofit tax and immigration law to ensure we made this change with all possible implications considered. We officially opened the Boettcher application to students meeting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival qualifications in our 2015 selection process and received 19 DACA applicants in our first year. In April of 2015, we awarded, Veronica, our first DACA Scholar, a 2015 Boettcher Scholarship. Veronica Fernandez-Diaz is an inspiring young woman. The Boettcher Foundation Scholarship will continue to be awarded to the Colorado high school students we feel will make the biggest impact on their universities and communities, and we are proud to say they now truly come from all types of backgrounds and experiences, including our Colorado Deferred Action students....