Does Being an Eagle Scout Help with College Admissions?

photo of an eagle scout using a spotting scope which represents his search for a college
August 19, 2022
What Colleges Think About Eagle ScoutsApplicable Eagle Scout SkillsHow to Include "Eagle Scout" on Your College ApplicationEagle Scout College ScholarshipsNot an Eagle Scout? Other Things That Can HelpEagle Scout for College FAQs

”Rohan

Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/13/22

Being an Eagle Scout is the highest rank you can achieve in the Scouts BSA. So, how does being an Eagle Scout help with school admissions? Is it a big deal to be an Eagle Scout? Read on to learn more about how your BSA ranks can boost your college profile! 

The college admissions process is an exciting endeavor, but it requires diligence and effort. Millions of hopeful high school students apply to a roster of colleges every year, and they all hope to be offered admissions to their top choices.

College applicants do their best to differentiate themselves from their peers to stand out in the admissions process through their academic achievements, well-written essays, and meaningful extracurricular activities. 

If you’re affiliated with Scouts BSA, you may wonder if being an Eagle Scout helps with college admissions. The answer to this is yes, colleges tend to look favorably upon Eagle Scouts. 

In this guide, you’ll learn how colleges view your Eagle Scout status, how your skills translate into the college experience, and how to include your status on applications. 

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What Colleges Think About Eagle Scouts

Earning the Eagle Scout rank is the highest advancement rank you can achieve in the Scouts BSA. The level is attainable only after a Scouts BSA member moves through six other ranks. 

Only 8% of all Scouts BSA members have earned the Eagle Scout rank, which indicates you accomplished a goal few others in the organization have. Recent data states that 17.3 years old is the average age to become an Eagle Scout—the approximate age of a typical high school senior. 

Being an Eagle Scout not only adds an element of interest and differentiation to your application but also demonstrates your commitment to an extracurricular activity. College is a big commitment, and admissions committees view you sticking with something you’re passionate about for so long as a predictor of your future behavior. 

When college admissions officers see “Eagle Scout” on your application, they may automatically think you’re a stand-up person with numerous positive character traits. 

picture of an Eagle Scout being recognized.

Source: Flickr.com

The skills you’ve learned while moving through the Scouts BSA rank are also important to college admissions committees. Eagle Scouts embody positive character traits and values and are involved members in their communities and beyond. 

Your community service work and Eagle Scout project display your community involvement. Colleges hope to admit students they believe will contribute to the school’s community and culture, and touching on your community service in your application can show you wish to uphold your community involvement. 

BSA Troop 106 in New York asked 17 universities one question to learn more about the impact of being an Eagle Scout in the college admissions process: “What kind of effect does being an Eagle Scout have on a prospective student’s application to your school?”

Top national schools such as John Hopkins University, University of California—Los Angeles (UCLA), and University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill (UNC) responded:

“When we review an application, we look for three things: academic character, impact and initiative, and personal contributions. Anything a student does to make a difference through service, leadership, or innovation — from participating in the Boy Scouts, to caring for family members, or participating in a school club — is considered as we try to get a sense of who they are and what impacts they’re making on the community around them.” — John Hopkins University
“We do not consider any one kind of extracurricular activity inherently ‘better’ than another. What is important is that students select activities that are truly meaningful to them and that they really get involved with them…With this in mind, students should include Eagle Scout in their application if they believe this particular extracurricular activity meets the criteria above.” — UCLA
“We appreciate the service and dedication required to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. Within the extracurricular portion of the application…This is where we would hope to hear from students, in their own words, about what makes their Scouting experience meaningful to them and their community. Hearing personally from students gives us a deeper and more nuanced appreciation for any activity or award.” — UNC 

It’s important to note that while you should certainly put “Eagle Scout” on your college applications, your rank on its own won’t gain you admission to your dream college—you must still get good grades, perform well on the SAT or ACT, have stellar letters of recommendation, and write impactful essays. 

However, adding your Eagle Scout status to your application can add value and uniqueness to make you stand out. 

Applicable Eagle Scout Skills 

Becoming an Eagle Scout indicates you embody multiple positive traits, including “trustworthiness, loyalty, helpfulness, friendliness, courteousness, kindness, obedience, cheerfulness, thriftiness, bravery, cleanliness, and reverence.” 

Beyond personal characteristics, your rank means you’ve earned at least 21 merit badges, including Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communication, Environmental Science and Sustainability, and Personal Management. These achievements showcase skills colleges want to see in their students. 

Because of your Scout background, you’re used to working in a team setting toward a common goal. Collaboration is a crucial transferable skill in college to help you connect with your peers and manage the workloads of any group project. 

Eagle Scouts are taught to have impeccable time management skills, another important aspect of college life. You’ll deal with numerous deadlines in your college career that require solid time management skills. 

Colleges want to know you can handle the rigor of undergraduate education, and having good time management skills can make your college career easier and less stressful as you navigate more challenging courses and an increased workload. 

Moving through the Scouts BSA ranks has primed you for leadership. Colleges search for leadership capabilities in your application, as it can help you have an enjoyable college experience. Don’t be afraid to get involved with causes and clubs you’re passionate about. You might be a driving force for positive change in your new community. 

Every Eagle Scout skill in your toolbox is transferable to your college experience, no matter what degree path you hope to pursue. “The skills learned during these scouting years can help a student to achieve the best outcome for years to come. Many will earn honors in their college education for their hard work,” states Unity College. 

How To Include “Eagle Scout” on Your College Application

Now you know your diverse skill set, character traits, and values are transferable to college life and make you a more competitive candidate. But how do you ensure admissions committees know the depth of your work on your college application? 

First, including a phrase such as, “Earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 2019” is not enough. While most college admissions officers will understand what your rank entails, you should provide more context than one phrase on your application. 

Brandie Eneks, director of freshman admissions at Texas A&M University, said, “While identifying oneself as an Eagle Scout is important, it is also critical to provide detailed information.” 

There are three places in your application where contextualizing your Eagle Scout experience makes sense: your resume, extracurricular activities list, and personal or supplemental essays. 

Contextualize your community service projects 

Eagle Scout service projects “show that the young person can manage a multifaceted project, create a budget, lead others and commit themselves to something that takes months to complete.” And that’s only what your involvement reflects on you. Your community service also undoubtedly made an impact on the community. 

You can write about your service project on your professional resume or in your essay. If your project was especially meaningful to you or helped significantly shape who you are today, it can make for a highly compelling admissions essay. 

Be sure to touch on your leadership role and how you managed to plan and execute the project, and elaborate on how that experience was meaningful to your growth, mindset, or personality. 

Emphasize Leadership Experience 

Leadership experience helps you stand out from the pool of other applicants. If you took on specific leadership roles as you moved through the Scout ranks, touch on them in your resume or extracurriculars list.

Remember, most online applications, like the Common Application, allow you to add more information. Take advantage of the space to contextualize your experience!

Explain the Significance of Select Merit Badges 

To earn Eagle Scout designation, you’ve earned at least 21 merit badges, but you’ve likely earned more badges pertaining to your interests. Colleges want to accept students who demonstrate a range of varied interests; explaining a handful of your merit badges can help show the breadth of your skills and interests. 

You’ll want to share how many badges you’ve earned, but you won’t have the space to write about all of them. Choose merit badges that are varied, not necessarily the ones you earned first or last, or the ones you think will be most impactful to admissions committees.

However, you should pick a badge or two that relates to your program, if you have them. For example, if you earned the American Business merit badge, you should share that in your application to an undergraduate business program. 

If you’re applying to a computer science program, you should spotlight your Programming badge, if you’ve earned it. Think of your badges as small insights into your interests and skills.

Eagle Scout College Scholarships

There are 65 Eagle scout college scholarships available through the National Eagle Scout Association: 

High school seniors through their junior year of college are eligible for any of these Eagle Scout college scholarships, as long as they plan to attend or are attending a four-year college or other approved programs. Other conditions include: 

To be eligible for any of the above scholarships, Eagle Scouts must fulfill all requirements and conditions: 

Applicants must use the NESA scholarship portal to apply when it opens in December. 

Not An Eagle Scout? Other Things Can Help 

If you’re not an Eagle Scout, you can still craft an impactful and competitive college application. Being affiliated with the Scouts BSA organization, in general, can still add value to your application if you explain the merit badges you’ve earned and any other impacts you’ve made in communities. 

If you’re not involved with the Scouts BSA at all, you can showcase your volunteer services in your extracurricular activities list. Think about where you’ve volunteered your time, what you did, and how your actions or involvement benefited other people. 

Remember, extracurricular activities are not limited to organizational work. Taking on a more prominent role in the home or offering to babysit neighborhood children counts toward community involvement, too. 

Whether you’re an Eagle Scout or not, your essays are a critical aspect of any college application. College admissions essays humanize your application and show who you are beyond your grades, test scores, and accomplishments. 

Essays are often the differentiation factor between applicants with similar qualifications, so ensure your narratives are vibrant and polished before you click “Submit.” 

Choose highly personal experiences that impacted your character, beliefs, or thought processes. Demonstrating growth shows admissions committees you’re an open-minded and compassionate candidate. 

Finally, do everything you can to raise your GPA and reinforce your test scores before applying to colleges. Remember, an Eagle Scout rank by itself isn’t enough to cover poor grades or other holes in your application. Boosting your GPA always bolsters your application and performing well on your tests showcases your academic aptitude and college readiness. 

Eagle Scout for College FAQs

If you still have questions about how being an Eagle Scout helps with college admissions and more, read on! 

1. How Do I Become an Eagle Scout? 

To become an Eagle Scout, you must progress through seven ranksScout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, and Life. You must earn at least 21 merit badges, serve six months in a position of responsibility, and attend a Scoutmaster conference as a Life Scout. 

Finally, you must “plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school, or their community.” After you’ve met all these requirements, you must complete your board of review to become an Eagle Scout. 

2. How Important Is Being an Eagle Scout to Colleges?

Being an Eagle Scout is a big deal to colleges. Many schools value Eagle Scouts because they know they’ve learned specialized skills, display positive character traits, and are capable leaders. Your Eagle Scout status is an excellent way to add more differentiation to your application. 

3. How Do I Put Eagle Scout on My Resume? 

Your Eagle Scout status should be at the top of your extracurricular activities section on your resume. Putting “Eagle Scout” on your resume means more than just writing down your rank. You should add context about your Eagle Scout project, troop leadership responsibilities, and a point that shows a character trait catering to the role you’re applying to. 

4. How Do I Write College Essays as an Eagle Scout? 

Application essays require time, effort, and likely more than a few drafts to reach a final product. Writing about the experiences leading up to your Eagle Scout rank can make a great essay if your story is creative and well-constructed. 

Remember to show your passion, critical thinking skills, and self-awareness. Don’t get caught up in just retelling a story; ensure you’re analyzing how the experience shaped you into who you are today and why it makes you an excellent candidate. 

If you’re unsure how to structure your essay, looking at Eagle Scout essay examples can help inform and inspire your writing process.

5. Which Colleges Offer Eagle Scout Scholarships? 

Some colleges offer school-specific Eagle Scout scholarships, including: 

Ensure you check whether the schools you want to apply to offer Eagle Scout scholarships.

6. I’m an Eagle Scout Who Needs Help Applying for College: Who Do I Ask?

The college application is lengthy and can be a somewhat nerve-wracking experience for Eagle Scouts, even though you’ve had experience compiling applications. An admissions consultant can help you make the most of your application and ensure your experiences and qualifications that make you unique are emphasized. 

Beyond application content, they have the know-how to tailor your application to what specific admissions committees seek most. If you want to boost your chances of acceptance (especially at top-ranked schools), an admissions expert can give you a competitive edge.

Final Thoughts 

Your Eagle Scout rank shows admissions committees your ability to commit long-term, that you possess positive character traits, and you have multiple transferable skills to help you through the college experience. 

While being an Eagle Scout won’t cover any holes in your application, it can take an already well-rounded application from good to excellent. 

Remember to contextualize your experiences and qualifications in your resume, extracurricular activities list, or essays. Your Eagle Scout rank is a fantastic accomplishment that deserves space on your college applications. 

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