How Competitive Is the Coca-Cola Scholarship?

Coca Cola Bottle Winter View
August 28, 2023


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/4/23

Are you interested in applying for the Coca-Cola Scholarship but unsure how to start? How competitive is the Coca-Cola Scholarship? What are the requirements? This guide will help you find the answers to all your questions and concerns. 

Through its philanthropic arm, the Coca-Cola Company aims to give back and make a difference in the communities where it operates as a business. They achieve this by offering various college scholarships annually to those pursuing a higher education. 

If you wish to apply for one of their scholarships, this article will help guide you through the process. We’ll cover what to include in your application, how to make it look good, and help you determine whether you meet the requirements.

What Is the Coca-Cola Scholarship?

The scholarships offered by the Coca-Cola Scholars Program are awarded to high school seniors based on their achievements. Therefore, awardees are recognized for their leadership capabilities, commitment to and impact on their schools and communities. Through three nationally recognized programs, the Foundation has provided more than 1,400 students with scholarships valued at $3.55 million a year

The Foundation also supports a number of two-year colleges through the Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Program, which is administered via Phi Theta Kappa.

The Program awards 200 stipends (up to $237,500) annually across four tiers of recipients in varying amounts:

  • 50 New Century Gold Scholars are awarded $1,500
  • 50 Silver Scholars are awarded $1,250

50 Bronze Scholars are awarded $1,000

How Competitive Is the Coca Cola Scholarship?

Given that this scholarship is offered by a company that is recognized nationally, the application process is quite competitive.  Every year, out of the thousands of students who apply, Coca-Cola awards only 150 prospective students with the $20,000 scholarship. It is estimated that only 1% of applicants get chosen by the Foundation.

Do not let this dishearten you, though; your chance is just as good as any other student applying. You can better your chances by making your application impressive and stand out to grab the attention of the Foundation.

How to Win the Coca-Cola Scholarship

The Coca-Cola Foundation is very meticulous when picking its recipients. To give yourself the best chance to win the Coca-Cola Scholarship, follow their application steps closely and try to make yours stand out from the rest. Before we discuss what you need to do to complete an application for the Coca-Cola Scholarship, let’s take a look at the eligibility requirements. 


To be considered eligible as an applicant, you must be:

  • A current high school or homeschooled student attending the U.S. or selected DoD school who will graduate during the 2023-2024 academic school year
  • A U.S. citizen, U.S. national, U.S. permanent resident, refugee, asylee, Cuban-Haitian Entrant, or Humanitarian Parolee - based on guidelines by the U.S. Department of Education for Federal Financial Aid eligibility
  • Expected to obtain your high school diploma during the current academic year
  • Plan to pursue a degree at an accredited U.S. post-secondary institution
  • Able to verify a minimum 3.0 GPA or B average in your high school coursework

You do not qualify for the scholarship if you:

  • Are a child or grandchild that are current employees, officers, or owners of Coca-Cola
  • Are a child or grandchild of former Coca-Cola employees currently receiving retirement benefits based on their previous Coca-Cola employment
  • These industries include Coca-Cola bottling companies, The Coca-Cola Company, Company divisions or subsidiaries.
  • An international student (DoD schools excepted)
  • A high school graduate
  • Are a temporary resident

Once you have confirmed that you are eligible, you can start your application.

Create an Account 

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation will require you to create an account on their website. From there, you will be expected to answer a short quiz to ensure you are indeed eligible for the scholarships and determine precisely what types of scholarships suit you best.

If the quiz permits you to continue, you can then move on to the next steps.

Thoroughly Fill Out Their Application 

In the application, you will be asked to provide a list of any:

  • Clubs or organizations you have been involved in
  • Honors or awards you have received
  • Volunteer activities you have participated in
  • Paid work and internships you have completed in

You can submit up to 10 or 11 activities for each of these sections, so you are welcome to be as thorough as you want. No matter how small the activity, it does not hurt to add it. 

Help the scholarship committee determine what is most significant to you by prioritizing your activities and achievements. For example, suppose you are particularly proud of your experience as the Vice President of your school's book club and have been responsible for significant duties (like organizing school trips, hiring a guest speaker, or hosting a fundraiser). In that case, this experience should appear at the top of the lists.

Pinpoint Activities That Demonstrate Your Initiative and Leadership

Coca-Cola Scholars are recognized for their exceptional leadership skills; it is one of the most valuable traits regarded by the committee. To be a successful applicant, you must exemplify your leadership abilities through any activities, honors, community service, or work experience during high school education.

Be selective about the activities that you highlight in your application. Volunteering at your local animal shelter just to fulfill required community service hours, for instance, would not be ideal. However, it would be beneficial to mention if you did so because you care about animals and are thinking about pursuing a career advocating for animal rights. 

Suppose you set up a fundraiser or a volunteer group with charitable missions, like establishing a food donation program or supplying necessities for the homeless. Then these are also impressive things that you can list in your application. These examples illustrate a host of positive characteristics. The animal shelter example shows your desire to help those who do not have a voice in your community, while the fundraiser example displays your passion for serving those in need and creating systems to have a long-lasting impact.

Before You Submit Your Application

Suppose you make it to the semifinals, good job! However, you are not out of the woods yet. As a semifinalist, you must provide additional details about your community involvement, community service, and leadership capabilities. This section will require you to write an essay, compose statements of impact, and include a reference letter from someone who can best attest to your personality and the impact you have had on your community. 

This part of the application aims to gain a deeper understanding of who you are. Your impact statements should therefore highlight your experiences. The scholarship has an essay prompt that asks you what activity you would choose to invest time in and why. Use these writing prompts as opportunities to speak boldly and freely about your life's experiences that have molded you as a person, alongside shaping your interests and goals, personal or academic. Having a unique and honest personal essay will help distinguish you from other applicants.

After You Submit Your Application

You should also ensure that you request a recommendation from someone who can vouch for your talents and dedication, not just work ethic or academic skills. A good example would be your guidance counselor; they can usually paint a virtuous picture of you by discussing your community involvement, extracurricular activities, and personal traits. 

For Regional Finalists: Practice Makes Perfect

You should be proud of yourself for making it this far. In the final pool of applicants, you will face the last obstacle in the application process; you will have a short interview (~20 minutes) with three or four people, either Coca-Cola scholar alumni or Coca-Cola Scholarship Foundation employees. These can be held in person or online.

The interview will be an opportunity for you to review your application and familiarize yourself with your essays and achievements, whether academic or volunteer. It would be best to practice answering interview questions with a friend, family member, or even attend interview workshops to feel more prepared for the actual interview.

The interview is very time-sensitive, so you may not have time to ask them any questions, as they cut off right at the 20-minute mark. It works like a regular college alumni interview; the interviewers have viewed your application and will ask questions directly referencing specific parts of it. 

By practicing, answering the questions will be no trouble at all. The interview will be subjective and sometimes unpredictable. So, be sure to review all your information thoroughly and space it out; that way, you do not feel overwhelmed and blank out on a question.

FAQs: How Competitive Is the Coca-Cola Scholarship?

Have some more questions about the Coca-Cola scholarship? Here are some general questions with answers that will give more insight into the matter.

1.  Are International Students Eligible for This Scholarship?

The Coca-Cola scholarship is open to U.S. citizens and international students residing in the U.S. only. However, international students living outside of the U.S. can also be granted scholarships, fellowships, and grants outside the country where their institution is located.

2. How Many Student’s Tuition Would Be Covered if I Won the Scholarship?

Each year, the Coca-Cola Scholars Program selects 150 students as National Scholars, who receive $20,000 tuition. Another 200 students will be awarded $1,000 each through the Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise scholarship.

3. When Is the Deadline to Apply for This Scholarship?

For students graduating high school during the 2023-2024 academic year, applications will open August 1st and the submission deadline will be October 2, 2023.

4. Where Can I Find the Application Link?

There are two ways you can access the application link; either through the application portal or by clicking the 'apply' button at the menu on top of the FAQ page

5. What Things Look Good on My Application?

Talk about your most impressive achievements in school, volunteering, paid work, and extracurricular activities. Successful applicants embody values such as leadership, service, and community involvement, traits that the Coke Scholars program prioritizes.

6. Can I Print and Mail My Application to the Coca-Cola Scholarship?

No. All applications must be submitted online through the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation application portal. They do not accept applications via email, fax, or mail. They also do not accept additional and supplemental information for your application, including but not limited to transcripts, essays, and letters of recommendation. 

7. Can Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Students Apply?

Only students who are eligible for Federal Financial Aid can apply for the Coca-Cola scholarship.

Final Thoughts

Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation's mission is to provide financial aid to students who wish to have lifelong enrichment opportunities in their thirst for knowledge and dedication to change the world. While it is a highly competitive scholarship, with the proper knowledge and credentials, you can present yourself positively and have a good chance of winning it. Good luck!

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