Kimberly Liu 3 min read Scholarships

Voice of Democracy College Scholarship Program

 

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Paying for college can be difficult. After receiving financial aid from your college or university, you may still need additional help to fund your education. That’s what external, privately-funded scholarships are for! There’s a large variety of scholarships out there, all with different missions, target student populations, amounts awarded, etc. If you consider yourself a patriotic American, keep reading to learn more about the Voice of Democracy college scholarship program.

 

Voice of Democracy College Scholarship Program

 

Established in 1947, the Voice of Democracy College Scholarship Program is awarded by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) organization. The scholarship program aims to foster patriotism by investing in students with a “love for democracy”.

 

The scholarship program is an audio-essay contest for high school students in the US. Each year, around 40,000 students participate. The program awards $2.1 million annually, with a nationwide first prize of $30,000, and statewide first prizes of $1,000 in addition to an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.

 

How to Apply

 

The Voice of Democracy scholarships are for students in grades 9-12, enrolled in either private, public, or parochial high schools, or being home-schooled.

 

To enter, students compose an essay based on the annual theme of democracy and patriotism. For the year of 2019-2020, the theme is “What Makes America Great”? Students then record their recitation of the essay, and submit the audiotape, along with the written essay, and their completed Voice of Democracy entry form to a local VFW-sponsoring post. The deadline for the 2019-2020 cycle is October 31.

 

The audio-essays must be between three and five minutes long. Applicants are judged on originality, content, and delivery.

 

Take a look at last year’s full list of winners, or listen to the essays of the winner from your state, in response to the theme “Why My Vote Matters”.

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Tips on Applying for Scholarships

 

Many scholarship applications are similar to college applications, requiring transcripts, test scores, essays, and résumés. For Voice of Democracy, however, the process is much simpler, since you only have one essay to compose and record.

 

A more succinct process doesn’t mean it’s an easy task, however. The Voice of Democracy essay is an opinion essay. The committee wants you to express your opinion towards a topic with eloquence, originality, and creativity. Here are some tips for approaching the essay:

 

Take a solid stance

 

A big mistake students often make when responding to a prompt that asks for his or her opinion is not taking a solid enough position, or supporting multiple positions. Opinions essays are meant to demonstrate your ability to create a strong, well-supported argument. Beyond the creation of a strong thesis, it’s important that your argument is present in your tone and syntax throughout the piece–that it keeps your essay on its feet.

 

Support your argument

 

Do your research, collect facts, make an outline for your essay. Back up your argument with viewpoints, and explain them. Explore different rhetorical angles and decide whether your essay is best supported by arguments that invoke scientific authority, moral righteousness, or historical observation.  

 

Check your grammar and word choice

 

Style is important in any piece of writing, and it’ll be important for Voice of Democracy, especially since you are required to submit both written and audio copies. Writing reads differently aloud than on the paper. Make sure it flows well and that your words are conveying the tone and impact you want them to. Of course, always check your grammar.

 

To get a more solid sense of what Voice of Democracy is looking for, watch last year’s national winner read her essay.

 

To wrap up, if you’re hoping to get more financial help in paying for college, consider applying to more than just the Voice of Democracy program. There are many scholarships out there. In addition, our College Applications Program will guide you through every step of the college applications process. We will help your family make the best financial decisions for college, and show you how to win larger scholarships.

 

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Kimberly Liu
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Kimberly graduated from Smith College with a degree in English Literature. This year, she has been based in Beijing, China, where she works in the education field and rescues dogs in her free time. She will be starting her masters at Columbia University in the fall.