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10 Tips to Land the Equitable Excellence Scholarship

The Equitable Excellence Scholarship is the flagship scholarship program for Equitable, an American financial services and insurance company. Aligned with Equitable's mission of promoting financial security, this scholarship seeks to recognize individuals who demonstrate a commitment to being a “force for good” in their school, local community, or work activities.

The scholarship encompasses two distinct categories: annual scholarships and one-time scholarships. Equitable pledges to provide 100 $5,000 annual scholarships renewable for four years, summing up to $20,000 per recipient. Additionally, there are 100 one-time $2,500 scholarships to alleviate immediate financial burdens associated with higher education.

Important Dates and Deadlines

The application period for the 2024 Equitable Excellence Scholarship is open now and will close on December 18th, 2023, at 3:00 p.m. CST. Prospective applicants for future cycles should mark this date as the expected deadline annually.

Submission Guidelines

Applicants should familiarize themselves with the comprehensive submission guidelines to navigate the submission process effectively. These guidelines cover formatting requirements, document types, and other essential details for a successful application.

Selection Criteria and Essay Prompt 

Scholarship recipients are selected on the basis of:

  • Demonstrated ambition and self-drive to be a force for good in school, community, or work activities

  • Work experience

  • Unusual personal or family circumstances

  • A custom essay

  • A demonstration of financial need 

Students will be required to submit an essay in response to the following prompt: 

The Equitable Excellence Scholarship is designed to inspire and empower individuals to be a Force for Good in their communities while investing in their future success. Please share how you plan to demonstrate ambition and self-drive to be a force for good in school, community, or work activities. Please be specific about how you intend to continue your positive journey with assistance from the scholarship.


The Equitable Excellence Scholarship is committed to students who exhibit potential, courage, and strength in overcoming challenges. Eligibility criteria include being a current high school senior in one of the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico. Applicants should plan to enroll full-time in an accredited two- or four-year college or university in the United States for the entire upcoming academic year, demonstrating a minimum GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. The Equitable Excellence Scholarship is open to students across the United States and there are no fees to apply.

10 Tips for a Successful Application

1. Craft an Impactful Story 

The core of your application lies in the narrative you present. Focus on making your story resonate and leave a lasting impact. Reflect on your activities and leadership roles in which you spend the most time throughout the year. How does the work you have done in these roles connect to doing good, financial security, and the mission of the scholarship? The more compelling and inspiring your story, the higher the chances of standing out and securing the Equitable Excellence Scholarship. 

2. Showcase Unique Skills and Achievements

Identify and highlight the skills and achievements that set you apart. How have these distinct skills allowed you do do good in your community or begin to gain financial security? Emphasize diversity in your interests and experiences to present a well-rounded profile. However, be sure not to make your essay a resume list of skills and achievements. Weave them into your essay through a compelling story. 

3. Attention to Detail

Follow submission guidelines meticulously. Paying attention to details, from formatting to word limits, demonstrates your commitment to the application process. It is also important to add detail to your essay. Strong essays will be essays that are not only easy to follow but interesting and exciting to read because of their vivid details. 

4. Select strong letters of recommendation that will speak to your ambition and impact

Select recommenders who can speak to your abilities and achievements within the context of the scholarship. Consider mentors who you have worked closely with who may be able to speak to your ambition and self-drive to be a force for good in school, community, or work activities. Strong letters of recommendation will significantly boost your application and be essential to winning a scholarship.

5. Be Authentic

Authenticity matters. Be true to yourself in your application, showcasing your genuine passions and aspirations. The selection committee will value your sincerity. Everyone’s situation is different. While the selection committee is evaluating unusual personal or family circumstances, be sure to stay true to what you have actually experienced. What you have experience is what you know the most about and this will come through in the essay.

6. Connect directly to the Scholarship's Mission on Financial Security 

Demonstrate how your goals align with the Equitable Excellence Scholarship. Showcase your commitment to being a force for good in your community and beyond and connect to the program’s mission of developing financial security. If you are having difficulty finding specific examples of this, have a discussion with your counselor, teachers, or mentors about what examples they have for when you have done this. 

7. Utilize Resources on the Equitable Website 

Take advantage of resources provided by Equitable, Scholarship America, CommonApp, and the National College Attainment Network. Leverage workshops and guidance to enhance your application. To gain inspiration and insight into the caliber of recipients, applicants can explore the achievements of past winners. Hyperlinks to their work provide tangible examples of the qualities and endeavors that Equitable values.

8. Plan Ahead

Avoid last-minute rushes. Plan your application well in advance, ensuring you have ample time to polish and perfect each component. Since this is an annual competition, you can prepare your materials for submission well ahead of time. Set personal deadlines for having a draft essay done so that you may share it with your mentors and teachers for feedback and proofreading. 

9. Seek Feedback

Ask teachers, mentors, or peers for feedback on your application. External perspectives can offer valuable insights and help you refine your presentation. Be sure to prepare your application materials well ahead of time to give your mentors plenty of time to to schedule when they will read your application to get the most out of your feedback.

10. Proofread Your Essay and Application Thoroughly

This is a national competition with thousands of applicants. Typos and errors can detract from the professionalism of your application and could be the one item that puts you out of the running for the top awards. Winning applicants will have to proofread their essays and application materials thoroughly to ensure clarity and correctness in their submission.

Will you land the scholarship? 

The Equitable Excellence Scholarship offers a unique opportunity to reflect on their impactful work and to potentially secure financial support for their education and receive national recognition for their commitment to positive change. Although the scholarship is highly competitive, it still make be a valuable experience to apply for the scholarship even if you do not receive the award because essays may be used in college applications and mentors you requests letters from will be impressed with your ambition and goal setting. 

Understanding the scholarship's intricacies, from its purpose to submission guidelines, is key to a successful application. As you embark on this journey, remember that your story and unique qualities are your strongest assets.

Bonus - Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are passionate about research, you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a Ph.D. student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.

Image Source: Equitable Excellence logo



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