Scholarship judges may spend just a few precious minutes or even seconds reviewing your scholarship application. With such a finite amount of time to make a lasting impression on these important decision-makers, it’s crucial that you make the most of this opportunity. If not, your application may be on the fast track to the circular file.
What You Must Do
Get friendly with your own neighborhood
Take a look around yourself, and you’re likely to find some of the best scholarships. Your community is one of the biggest sources of scholarships. Local businesses, service organizations, city governments, and even politicians often offer scholarships for students. Find out about these kinds of awards by contacting your local chamber of commerce and by reading your community newspaper.
2. Choose quality over quantity
Unless you plan to make applying for scholarships your fulltime occupation, you’ll need to prioritize which scholarships to apply for. Instead of trying to apply to as many scholarships as possible, try to apply to the scholarships that best fit you.
3. Understand the purpose of the scholarship
Every scholarship has a reason for its existence. Scholarships may be designed to encourage students to enter a specific career field, to reward students who contribute to their communities or to help underserved students enter higher education.
Whatever the purpose of the scholarship is, it’s important for you to understand why it exists. Then use this information to guide how you write your scholarship application. For example, if you are applying for a scholarship that is based on volunteer work, then focus on how you have served the community in your application rather than any of your other achievements.
4. Follow the directions
From your first game of Simon Says, you learned how to follow directions. And yet, when students apply for scholarships and thousands of dollars are at stake, many do not do this. It’s simple. Include all the information and forms requested, and answer every question. Do take the time to read each scholarship application instructions carefully – and then follow those instructions diligently. Use the same care for scholarships as you did for college applications.
You don’t want your application to be turned down if you did not fill it out correctly or did not include any requested documents. To make it easier for students to understand, Buddy4Study gives basic pointers along with the links to where they can get the detailed information and instructions of a particular scholarship application process.
5. Write an essay that demonstrates why you should win
If you think of the scholarship application as your first handshake when meeting a person, then the scholarship essay is like your first conversation. It gives the scholarship judges a sense of who you are and what’s important to you. As you’re writing your essay, it’s important to make a case for why you deserve to win. Think about what skills and qualities the scholarship judges seek and then describe how you match them.
6. Get feedback from editors
You can’t write a strong scholarship essay in a vacuum, and editors are the best people to help. Friends, teachers, and even parents can make great editors.
No matter how strong of an applicant you are, it would be difficult for a scholarship judge to overlook spelling or grammatical errors. Proofread your application and essays yourself, and have your editors do the same.
8. Practice for interviews
Some scholarships require an interview, and the best way to stand out in this forum is to practice. Ask a friend or parent to do a mock interview with you to prepare for the real thing.
9. Ask your parents for help
Mom and Dad are capable of doing more than write the tuition check. They can help you find scholarships, keep track of deadlines, and give you feedback on your applications and essays.
10. Brag a little about yourself
No one else is going to do it for you so you’ll need to let your best self shine through in your scholarship applications.
What You Must Not Do
- Don’t overlook your college financial aid officer or guidance counsellor
Cosy up to these two people to get the scoop on awards from your college or high school and for local students. Helping students pay for college is their job, and you should take advantage of the knowledge they’ve accumulated.
2. Don’t ignore the internet
Fire up the computer, and use free web-based scholarship searches like ours (link to Financialaid.com scholarship search) to find more scholarships.
3. Don’t ignore small awards
When there are scholarships worth tens of thousands of dollars, you might think you shouldn’t bother with the small potato awards. The truth is that a $1,000 scholarship is $1,000 less than you will spend, and even if it doesn’t make a significant dent in your tuition, it can buy your books.
4. Don’t think that you have to be an academic or athletic superstar to win
There are scholarships based on leadership, art, music, theater, cheerleading, public service, and more.
5. Don’t be a victim of a scholarship scam
Never pay for a scholarship search, to apply for a scholarship or for a listing of awards. You can find scholarships on your own for free, and scholarships are designed to not cost anything to apply.
6. Don’t use the shotgun approach
It can be tempting to send the same application and essay to every scholarship competition, but this would be a mistake. Remember that all organizations that give away scholarships have different selection criteria. This means that the same application won’t work for all of them.
7. Don’t forget to answer the question in your essay
There’s a reason why the scholarship organizations provide the essay questions. They want to know your answer. An essay can be very well-written, but if it doesn’t answer the question asked, then it’s not going to win. Some scholarship application portals that don’t have mandatory scholarship essays, test the diligence of applicant for providing complete information.
8. Don’t wait until the last minute
You may think that you do your best work on the day before the deadline at 3 a.m., but if you review your work you’ll probably see that you don’t. Take the pressure off, and allow yourself more time to complete an application.
9. Don’t turn in an application that is incomplete
Scholarship organizations receive far more applicants than they can support. Don’t give them a reason to take you out of the running for not having a complete application, something that many organizations do.
10. Don’t think that it’s impossible for you to win
Every student who has won a scholarship has thought this. And guess what? They won, and you can, too. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t win right away. It’s important to keep in mind that applying for scholarships is a numbers game. The more you apply for, the better your chances of winning – so apply for as many as you are eligible for.
Studying at a top university is often an expensive choice to make, and if you’re struggling to scrape together the money, not only for fees but for accommodation and other living costs, university expenses can seem very steep and unaffordable. If this is you, don’t worry. This guide will give you the starting point you need for a successful scholarship application.
Almost all top universities will have scholarships available for students to apply for. You just need to know what they are, where you can find them, and how you can put yourself forward for them. Be aware that putting together a successful scholarship application does often requires a significant amount of time. But of course, if you’re successful, your efforts will be well worth it.
To avoid putting pressure on yourself and potentially missing out on an excellent scholarship, start your research early. The more time you can put into your scholarship search, the more options you’ll have. You’ll need time to research scholarships, request information and application forms, and complete your application by the specified closing date. Some scholarships may even close before the academic year starts.
Another important element you want to consider early on is finding out what scholarships you’re actually eligible for, as some will have specific criteria. By doing careful research you’ll be able to find the scholarships most appropriate for you and then you can spend time working on your application for them.
A scholarship application is very similar to a job interview. If you want to make a good impression, spelling mistakes and illegible writing don’t look good. Be sure to spend time checking these, and if you’re asked to fill in a form in a particular way, make sure you do. Before you send it, ask a family member or friend to proof-read it for you. They may find a mistake that you didn’t pick up on.
In some cases, you may need to provide references or referees to your application. It’s important to choose these people carefully; after all, there’s a lot hanging on this application. You also need to let each of your referees know when you are applying for a scholarship and tell them something about the kind of skills and experience you need to demonstrate. This enables them to write a considered reference that highlights the parts of your application that you want to stand out.
Always give yourself an extra few days leeway when applying for a scholarship. You may need this if you’re getting your application professionally printed, or if you’re waiting for confirmation from a referee. Remember, late applications usually won’t be considered. Therefore, use the guide above and present yourself well to be selected for your desired scholarship.