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The Complete Guide to Google Scholarships

Posted by Francesca Fulciniti | Jul 29, 2016 7:00:00 PM

Financial Aid

 

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Google is one of the world’s software and technology powerhouses - it’s not surprising that they offer several scholarships for students interested in pursuing computer science and engineering.

Because Google has the resources to offer very generous awards, applicants come up against serious competition when gunning for one of their scholarships. If you’re interested in a Google scholarship, you should be as prepared as possible if you want to submit a successful application.

In this post I’ll explain every major Google award in detail before giving you tips and strategies for submitting an awesome application.

 

Introduction

Google offers six major scholarships for students who plan to pursue (or who are actively pursuing) an education and career in computer science, computer engineering, or a closely related field. Because Google is constantly seeking to employ people with these skills, it makes sense that they would encourage talented students to study CS.

In an effort to encourage underrepresented groups to pursue CS and other technical fields, most of the Google scholarships are limited to certain populations. Here are the six major scholarships I’ll cover:

  • The Generation Google Scholarship - Applicants must be African American, Hispanic, American Indian, Filipino/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Female, or a Person with a Disability.
  • The Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship - Applicants must be female.
  • The Venkat Panchapakesan Memorial Scholarship  - Applicants must be students in India who have faced adversity.
  • The Google Lime Scholarship for Students With Disabilities - Applicants must study in the US or Canada and have a visible or invisible disability.
  • The Google Europe Scholarship for Students With Disabilities - Applicants must study in Europe and have a disability.
  • The Google SVA Scholarship for Student Veterans - Applicants must be US veterans or currently serve in the US military.

At the end of the article, you’ll find strategies for increasing your chances of winning a Google scholarship.

 

1. The Generation Google Scholarship

The Generation Google Scholarship is for high school seniors or current undergraduate/graduate students who are passionate about computer science and engineering, belong to a minority group within computer science, and plan on attending school in the US or Canada. 
  • Winners receive either $10,000 (US dollars) or $5,000 (Canadian dollars) depending on where they attend school. Money must be used for tuition or education-related expenses.
  • Application components: General background info, resume, transcript, 1-2 letters of reference, 4-6 short essays. 
  • Deadline: This year’s deadline (March 3, 2016) has already passed. Next year’s application will open this fall - the deadline should be in early March 2017.

 

Eligibility Criteria

There are different requirements depending on whether the applicant is a current high school student OR a current undergraduate/graduate student.

Requirements for High School Students

Applicants must: 

  • Be current high school seniors.
  • Intend to enroll in, or be accepted, as a full-time student at a university in the US or Canada for the 2016-2017 school year.
  • Intend to pursue a computer science or computer engineering degree, or a degree in a closely related technical field.
  • Exemplify leadership and demonstrate a passion for computer science and technology.
  • Be a student from an underrepresented group in computer science: African American, Hispanic, American Indian, Filipino/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, female, or a person with a disability.

Requirements for Current University Students

Applicants must: 

  • Be currently enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student for the 2015-2016 academic year.
  • Intend to be enrolled or accepted as a full-time student at a university in the US or Canada for the 2016-2017 school year.
  • Be pursuing a computer science or computer engineering degree, or a degree in a closely related technical field.
  • Exemplify leadership and demonstrate a passion for computer science and technology.
  • Exhibit a strong record of academic achievement.
  • Be a student from an underrepresented group in computer science: African American, Hispanic, American Indian, Filipino/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, female, or a person with a disability.

 

Application

Again, the application process differs based on whether the applicant is a high school student or a university student.

Application Process for High School Students

The online application includes:

  • General background information (includes contact info and information about your current and intended institutions)
  • Current resume
  • Academic transcript
  • One letter of reference from a STEM instructor
  • Responses to six short answer questions

Application Process for Current University Students 

The online application includes:

  • General background information (includes contact info and information about your current and intended institutions)
  • Current resume
  • Academic transcripts from your current and prior institutions (if you have earned a prior degree)
  • Two letters of reference from a professor, instructor, adviser, or supervisor
  • Responses to four essay questions

 

2. The Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship

Anita Borg Memorial Scholarships are offered around the world, but for the purposes of this article I’ll be focusing only on the US Anita Borg Scholarships. 

The US Anita Borg Memorial Scholarships are for female undergraduate and graduate students who are studying computer science or similar technical fields. 

  • Scholarship winners receive $10,000 each and will be invited to attend the annual Google Scholars’ Retreat in Mountain View, CA. Different numbers of winners are chosen every year, but it seems the scholarship usually selects 20-30 recipients. 
  • Application components: General background info, resume/CV, academic transcripts, two letters of reference, four essay questions.
  • Deadline: Applications are currently closed. The next scholarship cycle (2017) will open in the fall of 2016. 

 

body_womanworking.jpgWomen are underrepresented in CS and related fields - Anita Borg Scholarships hopefully work to remedy this. 

 

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must:

  • Be a female student currently enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student at a university for the 2015-2016 academic year.
  • Intend to be enrolled in or accepted as a full-time undergraduate or graduate student at a university in the United States for the 2016-2017 academic year.
  • Major in computer science, computer engineering, or a closely related technical field.
  • Maintain a strong academic record.
  • Exemplify leadership and demonstrate passion for increasing the involvement of women in computer science.

This award is open to US citizens, permanent residents, and international students. You can apply for this scholarship even if you’ve won before.

If you're not in the US, you may be eligible for a scholarship in another region. Anita Borg Scholarships are offered in Africa, Asia Pacific, Canada, China, Europe, Middle East, and the US. Scholarship conditions vary by region.

 

Application

Students submit an online application which includes:

  • General background info (contact info, information about your current and intended institutions)
  • Resume
  • Academic transcripts from your current and prior institutions (if you’ve earned a prior degree)
  • Two letters of reference from a professor, instructor, adviser, or supervisor
  • Responses to four essay questions

 

Special Notes

This scholarship seems very competitive based on the US colleges and universities that winners attend - many of them are top-rated schools. You can read more about the winners and their academic and professional careers.

As this is a memorial scholarship, it’s important to learn as much as possible about the award’s inspiration: Dr. Anita Borg.

 

 

3. The Google Venkat Panchapakesan Memorial Scholarship

The Venkat Panchapakensan Memorial Scholarship is for college and university students in India who are passionate about computer science and/or engineering.
  • Winners receive $750 (US dollars) for tuition and education expenses plus a visit to the YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, CA.
  • Selected students will also have an opportunity to submit a proposal for funding ($250) to spend on growing computer science in the local community. 
  • Application components: Two short essays, one short video, resume/CV, two letters of recommendation. 
  • Deadline: This year’s deadline (March 31, 2016) has already passed. Next year’s scholarship deadline (2017) should be around the same time.

 

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must be:

  • Currently enrolled as an undergraduate/graduate student at a college or university in India (for both the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 academic years).
  • Currently pursuing a degree in computer science, computer engineering, or a closely related technical field.

Students with compelling applications will also fit the following criteria: 

  • Aspire to be computer scientists and technology leaders.
  • Exemplify leadership skills and a demonstrated passion for community science and technology.
  • Assist those around them to excel in the field of computer science and technology.
  • Help their friends and family use computer science and technology.
  • Leverage the field of computer science to transform systems (from building the next game-changing technology, to even helping families be happy, etc.)
  • Have faced adversity and overcome it to continue learning and growing in the field of computer science.

 

body_communityhands.jpgThis scholarship strongly emphasizes ties to the community. 

 

Application Process

1. Write an essay (300 words max) explaining:
  • How do you plan to use CS to make the world a more sustainable place?
  • If you receive the scholarship, how will you use it to advance your passion and the goals of this scholarship?

2. Write an essay (250 words max) explaining adversity that you’ve faced and how it’s impacted your career. Explain the steps you took to overcome it. 

3. Submit a video (1 min max) telling the scholarship committee why you want to receive this award. Upload it to YouTube and share the link in your application. 

4. Submit your resume/CV. Include your experience in the area of computer science, as well as your leadership experience and the impact you’ve created. 

5. Submit two letters of recommendation. They can be from faculty or from supervisors at your work (like an internship, part-time, or full-time job).

  

Special Notes

As this is a memorial scholarship, it's important to learn as much as possible about the award's inspiration. 

Venkat Panchapakesan was a "much loved and highly respected engineer" who worked at companies such as YouTube, Google, and Yahoo.  He passed away at a young age after a battle with cancer. Here's what the scholarship description has to say about Venkat:

"During his short time he deeply touched the hearts and minds of his friends, family and colleagues. He taught us to be generous, humble, ever-optimistic and to always find the best in people."

 

4. The Google Lime Scholarship for Students With Disabilities

The Google Lime Scholarship for Students With Disabilities is for college and university students in the US and Canada who both (1) study computer science or a related field and (2) have a visible or invisible disability.
  • Winners receive either $10,000 (US dollars) or $5,000 (Canadian dollars) depending on where they attend school. Money must be used for tuition or education-related expenses.
  • Application components: General background info, transcripts, resume/CV, two letters of reference, three essays.
  • Deadline: The application is currently closed - the most recent deadline was December 6, 2016. The new application will launch in the fall.

 

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must:

  • Have, or consider themselves to have, a visible or invisible disability.
  • Be currently enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student at a university for the 2015-2016 academic year.
  • Plan to enroll as a full-time student at a university in the US or Canada for the 2016-2017 academic year.
  • Maintain a strong academic performance.
  • Be pursuing a degree in computer science, computer engineering, or a degree in a closely related technical field.
  • Exemplify leadership and demonstrate a passion for computer science and technology.

 

Application

Submit an online application which includes:

  • General background information (e.g. contact information, details about your current and intended universities)
  • Resume/CV
  • Academic transcripts from current and prior institutions (if you have earned a prior degree)
  • Two letters of reference from a professor, instructor, adviser, or supervisor
  • Responses to three essay questions

 

5. The Google Europe Scholarship for Students With Disabilities

The Google Europe Scholarship for Students With Disabilities is for college/university students in Europe who both (1) study computer science or a closely related field, and (2) have a disability. 
  • Winners receive a €7,000 scholarship. About 10 recipients are chosen every year. 
  • Application components: General background info, resume/CV, academic transcripts, one letter of reference, essay questions (number currently unknown). 
  • Deadline: The scholarship is currently closed, but will re-open in the fall.

 

body_europemap.jpgThere aren't many geographic limitations within Europe for this scholarship, which makes it pretty flexible. 

 

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must:

  • Be currently enrolled at a university in Europe for the 2015-2016 academic year.
  • Intend to be enrolled or accepted as a full-time student at a Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD program at a university in Europe for the 2016-2017 academic year.
  • Be studying computer science, computer engineering, informatics, or a closely related technical field.
  • Exemplify leadership and a passion for computer science and technology.
  • Have a disability (defined as a long-term or recurring issue that impacts one or more major activities that others may consider a daily function).

 

Application

Students complete an online application which includes:

  • General background info (contact info, details about your current and intended institutions)
  • Resume/CV
  • Academic transcripts from your current and prior institutions (if you’ve earned a prior degree)
  • One reference letter from a professor, instructor, adviser, or supervisor
  • Responses to essay questions (number and length undisclosed)

 

Special Notes

Although there isn’t much info available about the number or types of essay questions required, the FAQ section suggests that at least one of the prompts will ask students to write a technical essay.

If asked to write a technical essay, your piece should include the following:

  • A brief overview of the problem
  • Your approach to the key technical challenges
  • How you solved the problem
  • Impact/conclusions

If you’d like more info, check out this example of a technical essay written for this scholarship.

It looks like there are about 10 winners chosen for this scholarship every year. Winners are students at universities all over Europe.

 

6. The Google SVA Scholarship for Student Veterans

The Google SVA Scholarship for Student Veterans is for college and university students in the US who both (1) study computer science or a closely related field and (2) are student veterans or are on Active Duty
  • Eight scholarship winners receive $10,000 each. 
  • Application components: General background info, resume/CV, academic transcripts, two letter of reference, proof of veteran status, three essay questions. 
  • Deadline: The scholarship is currently closed, but will re-open in the fall. Last year’s scholarship deadline was November 2.

 

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must:

  • Be currently enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student at a university for the 2015-2016 academic year.
  • Intend to be enrolled in or accepted as a full-time student at a university in the US for the 2016-2017 academic year.
  • Maintain a strong academic performance.
  • Be pursuing a computer science or computer engineering degree, or a degree in a closely related technical field.
  • Exemplify leadership and demonstrate a passion for computer science and technology.
  • Be a current student veteran (includes members of the National Guard or Reserve) as proven by a DD-214 and transcript, or a student on Active Duty as proven by submission of Active Duty orders and a Memorandum of Understanding from your commanding officer indicating that you are currently in good standing with your unit and transcript.
  • Have received an honorable discharge, or be in good standing with his/her branch of service.

 

Application

Applicants must submit an online app which includes:

  • General background info (contact info, details on your current and intended institutions)
  • Resume/CV
  • Academic transcripts from your current and prior institution (if you’ve received a prior degree)
  • DD Form 214 Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD-214), or Active Duty orders and a Memorandum of Understanding from your commanding officer indicating that you are currently in good standing with your unit
  • Two letters of reference from a professor, instructor, adviser, or supervisor
  • Responses to three essay questions (300-500 words each)

Unfortunately, the exact prompts for the next scholarship cycle haven't been released. Chances are, however, that they will be similar to essay prompts used in past years. Essay prompts from last year’s application include:

  • What sparked your interest in computer science?  How did this lead you to major in computer science and what do you hope to accomplish with your degree?  In your answer, please describe how your experiences have influenced the goals you have for yourself.
  • Please give us 1-2 examples of how you have exhibited leadership. Explain how you were influential, what you were trying to achieve, and the impact you had as a result. These need not be demonstrated through formal or traditional leadership roles. Think broadly and examine the many ways you are having an effect on the members of your technical community, your university, or your broader community.
  • Please describe the most significant computer science project or research you have worked on, how you approached key technical challenges, and what you gained from the experience.  It might have been a class assignment, a research project, or other work or volunteer experience. If the project was team-based, specify your individual role and contributions in the project.


How to Win a Google Scholarship

Most of the awards listed are for current undergraduate or graduate students, so you may not be quite ready to apply for a Google scholarship. This is a good thing - the longer you have to prepare for your scholarship application, the better your chances of success.

Here, I’ll cover both long-term strategies (for students who are in high school/early college) and short-term tips (for students who want to submit an app during the next scholarship cycle).

 

body_chessstrategy.jpg

If you're trying to win any of the competitive Google scholarships, you've got to start thinking strategically pretty early on. 

 

Long-Term Strategies

You might still have a while before you put scholarship applications together, but that doesn't mean you can't start preparing. These long-term strategies will help you strengthen not just your Google scholarship application, but your college apps as well. 

 

Demonstrate Academic Excellence

There aren’t any hard GPA cutoffs when it comes to qualifying for these awards, but with the intense competition for Google scholarships, you’ll need impressive grades in order to stand out as an applicant.

Some of the scholarships listed above have public lists of scholarship winners which also list the students' college and university. Many of the schools (at least the ones located in the US) are very competitive with acceptance rates as low as 5-15%. This gives you an idea of the sort of student you'll be competing with for these awards

Not all scholarship recipients ended up at ultra-competitive schools, but your chances of winning an award will be higher if your grades are comparable to those of the most high-achieving students. I expect you'll need to have a truly excellent GPA - top 10% in your class, or even top 5% - in order to have a good shot. 

Read more about what’s considered a good GPA and why. 

 

Demonstrate Leadership Skills

Many scholarship programs - including Google’s - want to invest in future leaders in their fields. It’s important that you show a history of leadership experience in order to meet this criterion. You can do this by:

  • Actively participating in class or at work
  • Volunteering to lead or take on projects
  • Joining clubs or extracurriculars (especially related to CS) that ignite your passions and interests
  • Starting your own club or organization
  • Working your way up the ladder (e.g. getting a promotion) at a job or internship

 

Develop Relationships With Educators, Mentors, and Advisers

All of the scholarships listed above require applicants to submit letters of reference. It'll be easier to seek out letter-writers - and the letters themselves will be more effective - if you've cultivated relationships with several instructors, mentors, and/or authority figures

Seeking out these types of relationships is also helpful for another reason: it's important to have experienced people around you to guide you on your academic and career path. 

If you have respect for a particular class or job or extracurricular activity, your teacher or mentor will come to respect you - that’s step #1. To work on further developing these relationships, you can:

  • Go to office hours to ask for extra help on tricky problems or concepts
  • Actively participate in class and work meetings
  • Go to your professors or supervisors with questions that may be outside the scope of your regular curriculum or job; this demonstrates intellectual curiosity

 

Commit to Computer Science and Technology

The large scholarships that Google gives out are serious, long-term investments in both the futures of student recipients and the future of computer science and technology. As such, Google wants to make sure that the awards go to those who are going to stay in these fields

The longer you’ve been seeking out an education in CS and the more projects or learning experiences you’ve taken on, the more serious and invested you’ll seem to application evaluators. Here are a few ways you can demonstrate a commitment to CS: 

  • Start taking any and all available courses in high school
  • Work on programming projects with a mentor in your free time
  • Participate in CS clubs and/or competitions
  • Choose to major in CS or a closely related field (this is a requirement for Google scholarships)

 

Short-Term Tips

Even if you haven't been planning long-term to optimize your Google scholarship applications, there are a ton of things you can do to boost your chances. Follow these tips to submit a complete, polished, thoughtful application. 

 

body_shorttermclock.jpg

Not much time? You can still work to submit a winning application - you just have to be smart about it. 

 

Plan Ahead (as Much as Possible)

You can't exactly throw a complete Google scholarship application together in one afternoon. For one thing, you'll have to write several essays and/or short answer questions; for another, you'll have to get thoughtful letters of reference from teachers or advisers. These things take time to do well. 

I'd encourage you to start putting your application together about 12 weeks before the due date. This timeline is important for a couple of key reasons. First, you'll need time to draft your essays, ask a trusted mentor to review them, and then polish and write up final versions. Second, it's courteous to give letter-writers plenty of time to come up with references - ask them if they'd be willing to write for you at the beginning of this 12-week window (or even earlier). 

 

Invest in Your Essays

Your essays are the one part of your application where the scholarship committee gets true insight into who you are as an individual - they won't ever meet you in person, and while reference letters are helpful, they're still second-hand accounts. As such, you want to make sure your essays are confident, strong, and polished. 

Here are some tips for making your essays the best they can be: 

  • Answer every part of the prompt. This is especially important for any technical essays.
  • Elaborate - don’t just provide a list in response to a question. Evaluators want to see that you’re thoughtful. Yes/no answers will not cut it.
  • Make your goals and passions clear. It is very important to application evaluators that students are invested in, and passionate about, computer science and technology. There are many students that study CS - why should you get the scholarship? What do you care about that makes you special?
  • If you have an opportunity to do so, explain why you started studying CS, why you want this scholarship, and how this scholarship will help you (for example, maybe you hope to directly help others or advance technological progress). 
  • Craft a narrative. You want your essays (if you are required to write more than one) to work together in crafting a cohesive story about who you are and what you care about. Think critically about two or three important points that you want evaluators to know about you - all of your essays should serve to communicate these points.
  • Don’t be afraid to brag (to an extent). Bring up any honors, awards, or accolades if they’re directly related to CS. It’s helpful to make a list beforehand of all of your achievements (this is also helpful if you need to update your CV or resume).
  • Demonstrate humility. As accomplished as you may be, it’s off-putting to come across as arrogant about what you’ve achieved. Don’t be afraid to (partially) attribute your successes to the guidance, mentorship, and support of others.
  • Stay positive. This is especially pertinent when it comes to essays asking you about hardships or adversities. It’s helpful to speak about these issues with a frank, honest tone - just make sure to express positivity about the future.

 

Choose Your Reference Writers Wisely 

It's of course important to scholarship evaluators to gain insight into your own motivations and perspective, but it's just as important for them to understand how others view you. As such, it's important that you think strategically about who you ask to write your letters of reference.

Ideal letter-writers will have detailed, glowing anecdotes showcasing your character, your work (hopefully in CS), and your personal relationships with others. Letter-writers can be especially effective if they know you in multiple contexts (e.g. they serve as a mentor but also as a professor or boss). 

Read more about what makes for a great letter of recommendation.  

 

Summary

Google offers six major scholarships for students all around the world, but only students who are studying (or plan to study) computer science or a closely related field will qualify. The six scholarship programs are: 

  • The Generation Google Scholarship 
  • The Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship 
  • The Venkat Panchapakesan Memorial Scholarship 
  • The Google Lime Scholarship for Students With Disabilities 
  • The Google Europe Scholarship for Students With Disabilities 
  • The Google SVA Scholarship for Student Veterans 

As the awards are fairly generous, applicants will come up against serious competition. In order to optimize your chances of winning one of these awards, it's important that students strategize in both the short and long term. 

 

What's Next?

Google scholarships aren't the only generous, competitive awards out there. If you're interested in going after some serious scholarship prizes, we have the information you need to help you win. 

Check out our guides to the Gates Millennium Scholarship, the Coca Cola Scholarship, and the Ronald McDonald House Charities Scholarships

If you want to hedge your bets by applying to smaller awards (which you definitely should), local scholarships are the way to go. 

 

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Francesca Fulciniti
About the Author

Francesca graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and scored in the 99th percentile on the SATs. She's worked with many students on SAT prep and college counseling, and loves helping students capitalize on their strengths.



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