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Women have come a long way in academia; today, they make up 56 percent of college graduates compared to 1970 when only about 8 percent of women had a bachelor’s degree. Now more students, across all genders, are applying to more schools than ever before. This is ostensibly a good thing, but the 150 percent rise in applications over the last two decades has intensified competition and led to plummeting acceptance rates at the nation’s top universities, presenting a complex challenge for both prospective college students and admissions officials. While there is no single solution or perfect formula for gaining admission to a dream school, certain activities can enhance a student's application. One such activity is participating in the Girl Scouts and earning the prestigious Gold Award. More importantly, regardless of the esteem it carries for admissions officials, the Girl Scouts organization fosters leadership skills, confidence, and overall well-being for girls aiming for trade school, college, or other pursuits.

Empowering girls since 1912

The Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) was founded in 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low in Savannah, Georgia. Since its inception, the organization has been dedicated to empowering young girls through a variety of programs that promote leadership, entrepreneurship, and outdoor skills. The Girl Scouts' mission is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. Over the years, millions of girls have participated in Girl Scout programs, and the organization has become an integral part of American culture.

A proven track record

According to a study by the Girl Scout Research Institute, Girl Scout alumnae report higher levels of self-confidence, civic engagement, and life satisfaction compared to non-Girl Scouts. Participating in Girl Scouts can also provide a competitive edge in the college admissions process. Research has shown that Girl Scouts are more likely to achieve academic success, demonstrate leadership qualities, and engage in community service—all of which appeal to college admissions committees seeking well-rounded candidates. And after over a century in operation, the Girl Scouts boast many notable alumnae in a variety of professional fields from government and public service to STEM, entertainment, and more including Sally Ride, Barbara Walters, Tyra Banks, and Taylor Swift, to name a few. 

The Gold Award: A mark of excellence

The Gold Award, also known as the Girl Scout Gold Award, is the highest achievement within the Girl Scouts organization which requires girls to complete a significant service project that demonstrates leadership, planning, and a commitment to community improvement. Earning the Gold Award is no small feat; in fact, each Girl Scouts council as well as many colleges recognize this feat by offering scholarships to Gold Award recipients. The achievement involves a rigorous process that includes identifying a community issue, developing a plan, partnering with community members and executing a sustainable project. The skills and experiences gained through this process are invaluable and can set applicants apart in the college admissions process: 75 percent of Gold Award Girl Scouts say earning their Gold Award helped them get into college or graduate school, and 87 percent of Gold Award Girl Scouts say earning their Gold Award helped them succeed professionally. 

As the college admissions landscape becomes increasingly cutthroat, students must not only find ways to distinguish themselves, but ways to ground themselves and build confidence in a world where they they can be unapologetically themselves as they discover their strengths and rise to meet new challenges. Participating in the Girl Scouts and earning the Gold Award can do just that while providing a proven advantage and meaningfully impacting the futures of young people across the country.

To enroll, support, or learn more about how the Girl Scouts of Nation’s Capital empowers and prepares girls for a bright future, click here.

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