One of the most effective channels for attracting creative, independent-thinking, interdisciplinary-minded students to Marlboro College just got bigger. In June the trustees voted to significantly expand the Beautiful Minds Challenge, Marlboro’s contest for inspired and engaged high school students drawing applicants from across the nation and even the world.
“The Beautiful Minds Challenge has been so successful—last year we had applicants from Zambia, Egypt, and Indonesia—that it was time to up our game,” said Kate Trzaskos, director of community programs and partnerships. “Now in its sixth year, we are expanding the program to be even more attractive, with four times as many scholarships available for finalists in their senior year of high school.”
“The challenge has become increasingly international, which I find very exciting,” said Yoni Bork, a Beautiful Minds participant in 2014 and now a Marlboro junior studying economics. “I always look forward to meeting the students and seeing their projects, similar to when I was one of them. Last year a highlight was talking about urban poverty in Cairo with Mahmoud Adel, whose photojournalism project was my personal favorite.”
Each year, the Beautiful Minds Challenge has invited high school students to respond to a prompt—last year’s was “Be the change; document the effect”—using words, images, audio, or video. Submissions are judged by a panel of Marlboro faculty, staff, and students based on their quality, creativity, and demonstration of original, critical, and innovative thinking. Finalists are awarded expense-paid trips to a Beautiful Minds Symposium in the spring, where they share their projects and experience Marlboro firsthand.
“Beautiful Minds was a lovely welcoming into Marlboro’s community,” said May Jane Schechter, a finalist from the 2015 challenge and now a sophomore studying art, spirituality, and the unknown. “It allowed me to realize how talented and devoted Marlboro students are to their work and creations, and the endless imagination that Marlboro celebrates.”
While the structure of the challenge will remain the same this year, the stakes are higher, with 12 full or partial scholarships for seniors interested in enrolling at Marlboro and more than $2,000 in prizes for other students. The two groups of finalists will have separate Beautiful Minds Symposia, allowing special attention to their needs and level of interest in Marlboro.
“The Beautiful Minds Challenge will continue to invite students who like to think deeply about ideas, and express their thoughts creatively, to see what a Marlboro learning experience might be like,” said Kate. “This expansion of the challenge is likely to draw even more students with diverse intellectual and creative interests, for whom Marlboro is a great fit.”
The expanded Beautiful Minds Challenge comes at a time when the popular Renaissance Scholars program has run its two-year course, with the intention that it will attract many of the same applicants. It shares several of the same criteria for judging applicants, such as community service, leadership, innovation, and perseverance.
“The Beautiful Minds scholarship has made our community accessible to many, myself included,” said senior Alessandro Pane, a finalist in the 2013 challenge now studying music composition, performance, and critical theory. “What prepared me most for Marlboro College during my experience with Beautiful Minds was interacting with current students and faculty… That is why I am a student today.”