Tips for Applying to Be a Joyce Ivy Summer Scholar

By Shubhra Mishra
Applying to be a Joyce Ivy Summer Scholar was one of my best decisions in high school. What I thought would be a one-time scholarship for summer programs turned into a community of peers and role models I interact with regularly (hey! I even write for their blog). Joyce Ivy also helped me with the college application process. Having moved from India when I was in seventh grade, neither I nor my parents understood the American college application process. Joyce Ivy’s workshops and symposiums taught me how to navigate financial aid, find my college fit, write essays, and a lot more.

So how do you apply? You can start filling the application out here. Although not required (I’d recommend it — don’t do this in one sitting), if you create a JIF account, you’ll also be able to save application progress.

Deadline: March 1st, 2021

Documents you’ll need to apply:
  • Copies of your parent/guardian's tax returns for the prior two years (first two pages of 1040 only). If you have two living parents who are divorced, please submit tax returns from both parents.
  • Copies of your test scores (only if you plan on submitting scores)
  • A letter of recommendation from a teacher or a counselor (Note: ask for letters of recommendation early (I’d recommend giving them three weeks). Teachers and counselors are extremely busy and appreciate having the time to write you a good letter. Ask someone who knows you well and will write you a positive recommendation. Make sure to thank them after they’ve submitted a letter!)
  • Official academic transcripts
From this point onwards, I’ve tried to describe the application and give tips for each section. These tips stem from my experience and aren’t necessarily representative of JIF’s views.

Student and Parent Information

The information you fill in these sections is fairly self-explanatory. If you have any specific questions, contact Joyce Ivy here.

Academic Information

This section is fairly straightforward as well. Keep in mind submitting test scores is not mandatory. An additional optional section was added for students to discuss any impacts disruptions like COVID-19 have had on them. The JIF application review process is context-based. So to give application readers as full of a picture as you can, if you have something to mention, describe how COVID/a different natural disaster affected you. Although this section was not present when I applied, I did have to answer a similar question for college applications. I was fortunate to not be impacted very heavily by COVID-19, so I just used ~50 words to describe all club/competition cancellations.

Pre-College Programs Applied To

Applying to one pre-college is required and it’s highly recommended you apply to at least two. These programs are very competitive, and being selected as a Joyce Ivy scholar does not guarantee acceptance to the summer program. You also need* to apply for financial aid at those programs.
* There are some exceptions detailed in the application.

Financial Information

This section is fairly straightforward, however, you will need your parents/guardians to fill it out.

Extracurricular Activities

Use this space to describe five or fewer activities (clubs, sports, jobs, family responsibilities — almost anything you do outside school) succinctly. Here are some tips (none of this is required, but I’d recommend following these):
  • Order your extracurricular activities in order of importance and time commitment.
  • Use incomplete sentences to describe the activities. This section is very similar to the Common app activities section, and there’s an amazing guide here. You can read some common app activity examples here. This section does not have a 150-character limit like the common app, but keeping your descriptions short yet descriptive helps you and the application reader.
  • Don’t worry about activities that have hours that vary a lot! That’s okay. Just estimate the weighted average of time you spend.
  • If you can quantify achievements (x students tutored, y cans collected, z debates hosted), do so!

Essay Questions

Essays — like for summer program applications — are a crucial part of the JIF application. Don’t put these off for the last minute. Here are some general tips for essays:
  • Use anecdotes! Humans love stories, so a good story is a great way to make yourself memorable.
  • This seemingly contradicts the first point, but be concise in your essays! Imagery and the setup are critical in an essay, but what matters is your reflection and ideas.
  • Don’t use a thesaurus. Your voice is beautiful — let it shine through your essays!
  • Make sure to keep your essay straightforward. I used the Hemingway App to find and eliminate lengthy sentences or excessive adverbs.
The long essay:
When I applied, I was pretty clueless about this because I didn’t know what I wanted to write 650 words about. I’d recommend starting here. (I know practically all my links go to the College Essay Guy, but his advice is phenomenal.)

Additional Information

This is another optional section in the application. I didn’t use it, however, you can use it to describe financial, academic, or other extenuating circumstances. You can also describe an activity further if you weren’t able to do so in the extracurricular section.

Before you submit, make sure to reread your application. If you have a kind friend/parent/guardian/teacher, have them read your essays to see if they feel like you.

Good luck with the application!


Shubhra Mishra is a senior at Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. She enjoys reading (current favorite: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn), photography, and baking (carrot cakes, anyone?). She also loves working with kids and occasionally reading kid’s books. Her favorites include some of the classics: The Big Friendly Giant, George’s Marvelous Medicine, and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.