Previous Apartment Guide Student Scholarship WINNERS!
Apartment Guide is committed to helping students with high costs of their college education. Each year, we ask students to write on a theme close to our hearts.
Theme: What makes a home a home?
Winners: Jessica Reck, Danielle Sprunger
Theme: What is your responsibility towards ending homelessness?
Winners: Ryan Jinks, Alaina Martine
Theme: What do you love about where you live?
Winners: Molly Berkoski, Camila Santos
Read My Essay
The sky exploded with color as the sun rose over the crisp Alaskan tundra. The trees cast golden light as the sun came up to greet them. Hints of red, black, and blue dotted the tundra, still glistening with fresh, morning dew. No sign of humanity was heard: only the sound of chirping birds moving through the trees and over the winding, rushing streams. The scent of Labrador tea, Pine, and plumb berries filled the frigid air. I am amazed and thankful everyday that I can call this amazing paradise home. I live in rural Alaska, and it is a place like no other. I love my home because of its natural beauty. Each season brings its own unique wonder to my village.
In the summer, this beauty is found in the lakes on a fishing day. There is no feeling like rushing in a boat across our lake, zooming across lush green islands and tall rigid mountains, and watching the lake shine. Sometimes the water can be so still that you can see straight to the bottom and watch the fish dance through the water. When my family and I stop to catch fish, the only sounds you can hear are the gulls up ahead, the rustling of the grass on the islands, and the occasional excitement after someone catches a fish. Days like this bring me joy and remind of how much I love my home in the summer. But when the air starts to turn cold, I yearn for the falling leaves of autumn.
Autumn brings warm colors of brown, orange, and yellow as the green of summer fades. The leaves turn crisp and crunch when you walk over them, and the air starts to become cold. Our freezers are stocked with salmon for the upcoming winter and the excitement of the berry season approaches. During this time, the tundra explodes with color as salmon berries, huckleberries, and cranberries emerge, ready to be picked. When berry picking, only tundra can be seen surrounded by forests of stripped trees that are preparing for winter. Only the migrating birds and berries hitting our buckets can be heard.
Even though winter takes away all of the color that autumn brings, the first snow is a magical time. Excitement from all the children can be heard and seen. The snow falls on the tundra and forms beautiful mounds of sparkling glitter. The lakes freeze like glass and invite ice skaters to glide on them. Icicles form on the roofs of houses and on the branches of trees. When the snow falls on a windy day, it looks like schools of fish dancing in the sky.
When the snow melts and the air starts to warm again, green grass starts to emerge through the ground. Spring brings new life into the world. The birds flutter through the trees again, and the ground starts turning green with new plants. As plants grow and the ice melts, this beautiful cycle of seasons begins again.
I love my home because of its natural beauty. We do not have a Target, McDonalds, or Starbucks, which could be an inconvenience for many people. We do not have huge skyscrapers and fast public transportation. But we have the lakes, the forest, and the rippling streams. We have crisp clean air, fresh green grass, and tall beautiful trees. We have plumb berries and delicious fresh meat. We have vast expanses of tundra and huge mountains. We live in a beautiful Alaskan paradise, and that is enough for me.
Read My Essay
Also known as, couches-in-front-of-houses, Alabama.The church capital of the South, Alabama. Sit in front of the AC all day and still feel hot, Alabama. Nothing to do but go to church and eat fast food, Alabama. Stiff rows of identical houses stacked together, the air heavy with the scent of pine wood and magnolias. Somewhere between bliss suburbia and red neck.
Mobile, the place where the only thing to do after high school is to get married and have four children by the ripe age of twenty-one. Oh yes, the lovely small town of Mobile, where everyone’s favorite restaurant is located in the Circle K gas station.
Picture this: you’re at your Nana’s river house, the family’s pride and joy. White picket fences and magnolia trees right on the Atchafalaya river, a southern dream. You sit on the windowsill of your bedroom, your legs propped up on the bed in front of you. The dull summer heat comes in through the open window in waves, the air tastes of salt from the brackish water, and your hair’s stuck to the back of your neck.
Here you sit daydreaming about anything but your reality. Your mind drifts in and out of meadows and forests and mountains and beaches and anything but the small town you call home. You lean back, the back of your head touching the cool glass of the window above you. A glance at the clock tells you it’s only 12 pm, the slow crawl of the long summer days drags on. Another day wasted.
Hours pass. A blur of a day where every action melts into the next. 7:50 pm. A push past the mesh screen back door, the sky’s dim and the world feels like it’s frozen in time. The familiar buzz of mosquitoes and crickets greets you instantly. A grand orchestra of cicadas plays as the lazy sun sets, the sky a brilliant display of colors. The magnolias golden in the sun set, the woods around you seemingly on fire in the warm golden light. Time restarts, it’s dark now. The stars are out and a scattering of fireflies flicker in and out of view.
Looking out on the moonlight on the river you think to yourself:
Maybe it’s not all that bad after all.
Read My Essay
Surprised. That’s how I remember feeling as she approached me. She couldn’t have been more than sixteen, yet I could physically see the responsibilities weighing her down. Leaving home is hard enough, and yet this girl had completely abandoned her life. Her name was Sarah, and through her fluent English, I would’ve never guessed her situation; a Syrian refugee in Greece. Deprived, suffering and victimized. These are the words often used to portray refugees; however, Sarah completely shattered this stereotype. She exemplified strength, intelligence, and complete selflessness. I was taken aback; constant complaints about government, traffic, and other truly minuscule situations are issued every day, yet there was not one complaint from this young woman who faced complete uncertainty; rather, there were words of gratitude. When asked by our volunteer group what supplies she desired, she simply stated “a German book.” When inquired further, her motives for the book were revealed; she wished to be a translator for her family when reaching their goal destination of Germany. Surrounded by hardships, rather than seek items to better her personal situation, she sought out an item to assist in bettering the lives of her loved ones. Clearly, describing this woman as selfless would be an understatement.
Ever since this experience, people being displaced from their homes has been a topic I have been passionate about. I personally believe that it is our responsibility as the public and of the government to put policies in place that ensure people are not displaced from their homes. A lot of times, the problem of homelessness is due to people losing their jobs or having to pay for other unexpected costs that they were not prepared for, such as medical bills. This is unfair that we make things so expensive in the first place and it is not someone’s fault when the economy fluctuates, and they are laid off from their jobs. For these reasons, I believe we should be the ones that help. However, some people prefer to not have a house and that is ok. An example of this is vagabond, which is someone who usually chooses to wander and doesn’t necessarily want a home. This is different than those who are displaced from their home and would actually like to have a home. What I do personally to help those who don’t have a home is to volunteer at homeless shelters and food centers so that people who are homeless get the help they deserve. I also believe I can help by pushing for the government to pass a program that would help. One idea I have involves a card that all homeless people can get. This card would be able to be swiped and it can record every time they are applying and looking for a job which will result in them getting a certain amount of credits on the card. Then, we can have a home set aside where they may use the credits to be able to stay in the home. This would encourage people to look for jobs while also ensuring they are provided with basic human needs and rewarded for their efforts. This system could also be used for food and would be able to help most homeless people. I believe this can be a good way to help those that don’t have a home, along with doing volunteer work and bringing the homeless resources and information on ways that they may be able to get jobs and help get themselves out of homelessness if they desire to.
Read My Essay
It is estimated that there are currently about half of a million homeless individuals living in the United States. About 6% of these people live in my current residency, the city of Los Angeles. Last May, in an effort to get to know this fascinating and misunderstood group of people I decided to take a sleeping bag, toothbrush, and change of clothes down to Skid Row, Los Angeles’s most densely populated homeless district, and live there for four days.
A 52-year-old, very fit and charismatic homeless drug dealer named “Big Mike” invited me to stay with him and his girlfriend in their tent for the duration of my stay. He took me under his wing. For those four days, Big Mike gave me the most authentic experience of what living a homeless life in Downtown LA I could ever have hoped for. Not only did we form a deep friendship, talking for hours and hours about his story, my story, and the stories of those who lived around him, but he vouched for me as he introduced me to all of his friends.
His friends let me sit in their tents at night and observe as they shot heroin into each other’s necks and talk about their “day at work,” usually about what they stole and who they ran from. They told me all about how they got to the streets. One used to be an Army Ranger, who got hooked on heroin in Afghanistan and was later discharged because he shot an 11-year-old boy aiming a gun at him. Another grew up in the suburbs of New Orleans, and one bad choice after another led him to the tent that we were sitting in.
All of these people had a different story of how they became homeless. But I noticed one common denominator that connected every story… None of these people had a support system.
So, what’s answer?
You see, people who are homeless don’t have the best mentors to look up to. They don’t have people who are willing to have challenging conversations with them. They don’t have people that inspire them. They don’t have a support system. Sure, they have plenty of people that come and hand out meals, give them a free hair-cut and a few job interview techniques. But these people need someone who genuinely cares about them, who is going to consistently check up on them, and whom they can look up to.
I don’t have a happy ending for Big Mike’s story… yet. A year later, and he’s still living on Skid Row. One of his best friends, Tex, who also took me under his wing, was poisoned and killed a few months back. Big Mike still lives a very hard life. But something has started evolving in Big Mike that wasn’t there when I first met him.
He talks a lot about the future now. He has goals. He has a little bit of savings. He has plans to reincorporate himself into his son’s life, whom he abandoned six years ago. He may fall back to rock bottom before he gets fully out, but I’m confident that it is only a matter of time before Big Mike gets his life together and gets off the streets for good.
It’s not an overnight trick. Relationships takes time and a lot of investment. Some investments fail. But with patience, acceptance, and a lot of unconditional love, I believe that we can look back in fifty years and be proud of ourselves for nearly obliterating homelessness.
Read My Essay
Standing up-straight, hearing a sharpie marking its annual permanence above my head. As I grew, so did the marks.
At five, having crayon-masterpiece competitions with my sister. There was no stress, no worry in the world. We laughed around the dinner table, making jokes that only our family would find funny.
Almost seven, stealing cookies from above the fridge, without getting caught or hurt in the process. I learned how to ride a bike and roughhoused with the neighborhood kids; Band-Aids were necessary these days.
Eight, pretending to be a pirate on the mulch-filled playground during recess. My love for school blossomed, and addition and subtraction became my favorite past-time. More time at home was spent doing homework, accompanied by my parents’ minimal knowledge of mathematics.
Nine, having a hard time understanding why my parents weren’t getting along. I focused on my school-work, trying to distract myself from the issues happening around me. A home was supposed to be a safe, happy environment, why wasn’t it like that for me?
Up to ten, growing up too fast, facing the hardships of living with a single mother. Seeing my mother working a full-time job while working towards a bachelor’s degree part-time, was inspiring. I took for granted how much she did for my sister and me; she always made sure we were fed and taken care of.
Finally, a preteen. I continued with my school-work and would always expect nights at home with my mom and sister. After-school was becoming my favorite time of the day. We would laugh and watch the Food Network together, making ourselves hungry, even after we ate dinner.
Seventeen years young. Nights with my mom and sister were becoming less and less frequent. Mom picked up a second job, while I found a part-time job for myself. It became a pattern of getting home late, eating dinner by myself, and forcing myself to stay up at an ungodly hour to finish yet another college application. As if my mom had a sixth sense, she would walk into my room, while I was stressing about getting into an impossible university, and she would remind me that sleep was more important than any college application. Home was beginning to have less laughter, and less communication, however, there was always a feeling of comfort and security.
I am now eighteen years old. As a freshman at University, this is my first time away from home. But somehow, I feel closer to home now, than I ever did before. I know that whenever I call my mom, she is going to answer. I know that whenever I want to share my “teenage drama” with someone, my sister is a facetime call away. You don’t have to go home after school every day or eat dinner with your family every evening; a home is being there for one another when you need a laugh, or a shoulder to cry on.
As I keep growing, I’m sure that my family and I will face hardships that might distance us from each other, nonetheless, I know that in the end, we will become closer than ever before. That’s the thing about having a home, every step farther away, is one leap closer together.
Read My Essay
A house becomes a home when you’re sitting on the counter eating pizza because you haven’t gotten the table out of the U-Haul and the one-year-old is taking a nap on the makeshift bed of couch cushions, of which have yet to be assembled on the actual couch. It’s using someone else’s leftover holes in the wall to put up that last family photo taken right before a long deployment and looking forward to the next time we can all fill another frame, one that isn’t a facetime selfie with Daddy.
It’s a home when there’s a trail of ten pairs of shoes leads that leads out back to the game of corn hole and the wet, grass-filled footprints going in an out from the sprinkler mean that a first birthday doesn’t have to be missed by everyone. Home is having more than just a wave and a smile with a neighbor, it’s a shared pot of coffee out at the bus stop with two tired mommas. It’s a ladder being lent before a hurricane and a knock on the door after making sure you are ok. Home is a “let me know if you need anything,” kind of neighbor, that really means it.
Home is late night studying and early rising. It’s a place filled with patience and prayer and reminders for you and me that “Daddy’s going to be home soon” in the nighttime rocking chair. It’s a place where tantrums and teaching are tackled head on and usually end in a hug and a kiss. It’s new traditions and big achievements, making pumpkin pie and sleeping through the night. It’s a shared blanket around the fire pit with friends who turn into family by the end of the night. it’s stars and moon that stay the same from across the globe, and where technology is as close as it gets to being home. It’s a drive around the city looking for the best Christmas lights, then a cuddle on the couch with nothing but the twinkling tree and Michael Bublé for entertainment.
Home is an ordinary day with dinner just made and a trip to the mailbox to find a sweet card postmarked a month late. It’s a spotless house and a thirty-minute drive to the city airport, a long and grueling two-hour wait because you didn’t want to be late. It’s pacing back and forth at the bottom of the stairs. It’s chasing a toddler around and climbing on chairs, it’s turning around to the sweetest “Hey there” you’ve ever heard.
Home is bath time and diaper changes, kitchen dances, and Netflix binges. It’s getting to watch Friday night football and mow the yard, it’s teaching the little one basketball and watching the sunset. It’s Saturday cinnamon rolls and Sunday at church. Home is relief, reconnecting, and rest. It’s being thankful at the end of another day, putting the baby to sleep and falling into our comfy bed knowing that tonight at least, home is complete.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
How does the judging process work?
This is where things get interesting….
Step 1: You send us your finest 500-600 word essay.
Step 2: We put together a team of our smartest colleagues and determine 10 finalists.
Step 3: The 10 finalists will be asked to submit a 1-3 minute video to accompany their essays. Finalists will have 5 weeks to work on their videos.
Step 4: We open up voting to the public! The submissions will be shared on our website so the public can vote on the best essay/video combo. Rally your friends and family to get it together and vote for you once a day. You might even want to set your elderly relatives up with an email account so they can pitch in as well.
Step 5: Two lucky (and talented!) winners will be selected based on a combination of the judging criteria below and public voting results.
What are you judging my application on?
To determine the top 10 finalists, the essays will be judged based on the following criteria:
33% Relevance to the theme
33% Clarity of story or idea
To determine the 2 final winners, we’ll be looking at these three things:
50% Number of votes
30% Relevance to the content of your essay
But here’s a word to the wise: show us that you put some real thought into your application. We want to see that you’re thoughtful, creative, unique and putting some serious effort into your essay.
- February 16 – March 22 – Applications open
- March 23 – March 31 – Apartment Guide judging
- March 31 – Announcement of 10 finalists at www.apartmentguide.com/students/scholarship
- April 26 – Finalist videos due
- May 3 – June 3 – Public voting
- June 10 – Winners announced
To be eligible to enter this scholarship contest, applicants:
- Must be at least 17 years old
- Must be a U.S. citizen or otherwise legally residing in 1 of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
- Must be enrolled in or accepted as a full-time student at an accredited college or university for the Fall 2021 semester
- Must be pursuing an undergraduate education
- Have a minimum 2.5 GPA
- Contest is void where prohibited
- No purchase necessary
- All entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. ET on March 22, 2021.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What degrees qualify as undergraduate?
Undergraduate degrees eligible for this scholarship include:
- Bachelor Degrees
- Associate Degrees
Students may be enrolled in a 2-year college, community college, 4-year college or university but may not be pursuing a graduate degree.
How many credit hours do I need to prove full-time enrollment?
To qualify as a full-time student, applicants must be pursuing at least 12 credit hours during the Fall 2021 semester.
How often can we vote?
Individuals can vote for applications every day but only once a day.
I’m an adult going back to school. Can I apply?
Students of any age are welcome to apply if they will be enrolled full-time in an undergraduate program for the Fall 2021 semester.
What should I know if I’m asked to make a video as one of the 10 finalists?
You don’t need to be a professional videographer and you don’t need to be a film major. That phone in your pocket and a creative vision are all you need to win this thing. Just make sure that everything in your video is yours to use. This means you’ll need to get permission from the artist to use most of the music you listen to and the videos you watch. So make sure you plan ahead. We recommend using it as an excuse to collaborate with your multi-talented friends!
If I win, are there limitations about how I can spend the scholarship award?
The scholarship award money may be spent on housing costs associated with attending college. This could be for a dorm room or residence near the school.
The award money may also be spent on fees that are directly related to pursuing your undergraduate education. This would include the following:
- Fees/requirements related to specific coursework like lab fees or required supplies such as paints or calculators
- Enrollment in a study abroad program
All applicants must read the Official Rules before applying.
© 2019 RentPath Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved. All photos, videos, text and other content are the property of RentPath Holdings, Inc. APARTMENT GUIDE BLOG and the APARTMENT GUIDE Trade Dress are registered trademarks of RentPath Holdings, Inc or its affiliates.
ApartmentGuide.com is part of the RentPath Network of Sites