How to Win $100,000 for your STEM Innovative Idea

There are two major requirements to be considered for a Thiel Fellowship. First, an applicant must be 22 years old or younger. Secondly, applicants must have a concrete vision for what they are trying to create and be in the process of making meaningful progress toward the completion of their vision.

STEM Scholarships

Tips for Winning the Thiel Fellowship Scholarship

Whether you’re applying for a prestigious award such as the Thiel Fellowship or a local scholarship, there are a handful of best practices that will serve you well in your journey.

Build a Short Pitch Deck: In the case of the Thiel Fellowship, have a clear idea and a short pitch deck prepared. Keep focused on what you are doing and where you are going.

Build a Strong Profile:  Create a resume of achievements, awards, and other aspects of your life you want to highlight and use it to make sure your applications highlight your most notable accomplishments.

Proofread Everything: Double check all submitted applications for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. 

Get Recommendations: find potential recommenders such as current or past Thiel Fellows or other founders and investors.

Publications about you or media coverage: Strong indicator of traction is that media or a publication was eager to cover your project.

Here are some key points about what makes a great applicant stand out.

  1. You don’t get the fellowship for applying to the fellowship. You get it for making progress on your work. Keep focused on what you are doing and where you are going.
  2. Many grants for young people focus on your past achievements. For the fellowship, you want to balance your past with your future. What have you done and where are you going. You get the fellowship for showing past efforts while also garnering the sense that you are just beginning and that there is so much more to come.
  3. This leads to updating your application regularly. Applications are like fruit, fresh at first but they wither over time. Two weeks in the life of a project can have major twists and turns, make sure to communicate those.
  4. Get advice from a current Thiel Fellow — they’ve been through the most recent process and can tell you more about it from their perspective.
  5. Find potential recommenders, either current or past Thiel Fellows, or investors, founders, etc.

Lastly, don’t be discouraged if you don’t win this scholarship. At IO Scholarships we have thousands of scholarships available for undergraduate and graduate students. Remember the more you apply, the more opportunities you have to win!

IO Scholarships Tip: Using IO Scholarship allows you to apply for opportunities which you already qualify, and your ethnic and cultural background is valued. We take so much work out of the actual scholarship search process. Remember to update your profile frequently with a change in GPA to get the best matches possible.

If you need more information to help you win big scholarships read the following article.

Founder of IOScholarships Shares Her Tips on Getting Free STEM College Money

Below is some advice to help you win scholarships. However, winning them takes time, dedication and hard work.

Customize each essay
Scholarship judges can tell if you’ve adapted a previously written essay to meet their criteria.  I customized each application and use the beginning of my essay to showcase my unique skills. Remember, the time you are spending to tailor your essay can be rewarded with a college debt free future. Also, details are very important. Your essay might be very appealing but grammar mistakes and spelling errors can stand between you and a $100,000 award as careless mistakes can been seen as lack of dedication.

A scholarship essay is the most essential part of your application. This essay can either help you win or lose the opportunity to get a scholarship.

When writing essays for school, the most basic structure is: intro, body, conclusion. The same applies to a personal scholarship essay. A general outline for a scholarship essay should look like this:

  • Introduction: Open the essay grabbing the reader’s attention and why you deserve a scholarship.
  • 1-3 Body paragraphs: Tell your story such as what has been a significant challenge in your life and how did you overcome this. . Be sure to highlight things scholarship committees are looking for, like leadership skills, mentorship and community activities.
  • Conclusion: Wrap up your essay by restating your interest in the scholarship and showing how the story you’ve shared demonstrates your readiness for college.

Student writing essay


  • A hook that grabs the reader’s attention
  • Thesis statement (why do you deserve a scholarship?)


  • What has been a significant challenge in your life?
  • How did you overcome this?
  • What is/are your educational and career goal(s)?
  • What is/are your current educational goal(s)?
  • Why did you choose this particular college or university?
  • Why did you choose this field of study?
  • How will a scholarship help you achieve your educational goal(s)?
  • What is/are your long-term career goal(s)?
  • What will you do with your degree?
  • How will the scholarship help you in achieving your long-term career goal(s)?
  • Real-life examples that support main arguments


  • Brief summary of your key points
  • Restate the thesis (how the scholarship will help you reach your goals.

Submit scholarship applications early
Meet the deadlines and don’t wait until the due date. I followed the organizations’ application criteria. If the organization asks you to mail the application, don’t try to email it and if there is a maximum word count limit, don’t go over it. Most scholarship providers receive more qualified applications than available funds, so reduce your chances of being disqualified because you didn’t follow their requirements.

Treat the application process as a part-time job
The more applications you submit, the greater your chances are of winning scholarships.  I treated the application process as a part-time job dedicating 15-25 hours per week. I figured if I spent two hours applying for a scholarship and won $1000, that was like making $500 per hour; an AMAZING part-time job!

It was difficult at first, because I was putting in hours and hours in the application process before winning scholarships but it got easier as time went on. I wrestled with self-doubt. But don’t let the competition discourage you. IOScholarships help narrow your search. Results are generated based on your ethnic background and interests. Don’t wait, apply today!



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The Thiel Fellowship: Win $100k for Your Innovative Idea