Numerous students apply to scholarship competitions every year. Many of these deserve the scholarship equally, but there are only a limited number of students who can be awarded these scholarships.
To narrow down the awardees, the scholarship granting committee applies various methods. Most of the time it is assumed that the awardees will be selected based on merit but that is not always the case.
The application holds the key to receiving a scholarship. You need to strategize and apply a careful approach if you want to win the money.
Incorporating these 10 pro-tips while applying for a scholarship will increase your chances of winning one:
Start applying as soon as possible
Do not keep waiting until the last moment to start applying to scholarships. Get a head start by at least researching the scholarships that will be best suitable for you. Knowing your options will put you in ease and make the process of applying that much easier.
Some scholarships are available to freshmen and sophomores in high school, so apply to them as soon as you can.
You have to remember that many scholarships have limited funds. They might close applications early and provide scholarships to early applicants before their budget runs out. So, quite literally, the early bird gets the worm.
Utilize scholarship matching tools
Remember the stories of sitting for hours in the guidance counselor’s office to fill out paper applications?
You don’t have to do that anymore as you have the advantage of using tools like the U.S. Department of Labor’s free scholarship search tool that will do it for you.
These tools help you search the right scholarship for you from the thousands of scholarships available online. You can apply filters and use keywords to find a scholarship that meets your criteria which can range from qualifications to your interests.
Do not get confused by the countless options and only keep your focus on the scholarships that are good for you.
These are some tools that can help you find the right scholarship for you:
Take help from your advisor
You are assigned a counselor or college advisor in high school for a reason. They have years of experience and can help you find the right scholarship. They can even help you by reviewing your application before you submit it. You can even take their help to write your scholarship essays.
Another advice is to check out the past winners of the scholarships you are applying to. If you know any such person, ask the approach they applied towards their application and mirror it to get results.
You can also ask your guidance counselor for the most popular scholarships and which scholarship will suit you best.
Sanitize your presence online
It is a common practice among the people who review scholarship applications to Google the candidates they are shortlisting. You don’t want them to see unprofessional images of you that might kill your chance at getting shortlisted.
You should put your social media settings to private and create a personal blog or website so that they come across positive stuff when they Google you.
You can make one easily on websites like WordPress. You can also opt for a personal domain name so it’s easier to find your website.
Ask for recommendation letters
Most scholarships will require you to submit a few recommendation letters along with the application. They are as important as a well-crafted scholarship resume for you to even have a chance.
These letters could be from your teachers, community members, employer, etc. These letters act as a testimony to your qualifications, strengths, and ambition.
Type up a draft of a recommendation letter in the format that you want the letter in. Include talking points to help them out. Explain to them why it is important and how gaining this scholarship will help you out.
Do not neglect smaller scholarships
If you want to get through college with as little student loan as possible, you will need multiple sources to fund your education. While earning a scholarship that will pay huge amounts is going to be your priority, you have to be aware of the possibility that you might not win them.
You should not ignore scholarships that come with smaller awards. If you win multiple small scholarships, they might add up to a huge sum. Moreover, applying to as many scholarships as possible will increase the probability of you winning some of them.
Apply to scholarships year-round. Apply to at least one or two every month, starting sophomore year.
You can apply as a high school student, undergrad, and graduate student. Some even allow you to apply multiple times.
Draft an amazing essay
Not many scholarships will ask for an essay but those who do pay well. There will be many students who won’t apply to a scholarship that asks for an essay which is good for you as this increases the probability of you winning one.
A great essay can make you stand out. If you doubt your writing skills, take help from your advisor or make use of writing workshops that you could attend to hone this skill.
You will have to write essays for your college applications as well, so why not start early and develop this important skill while simultaneously helping yourself land a scholarship?
Carefully read the guidelines for essay submissions including the word limit. Recycle as little of what you have already submitted if you can.
Work on your interview skills
Many scholarships require an in-person interview. If you do not have much experience as an interviewee and are unsure about your skills, take time to practice. The most likely questions will be around your interests, background, aspirations, and achievements.
To get in the habit of interviewing and eliminate the jitters one gets during interviews, practice with your advisor or maybe even your parents.
Don’t miss deadlines
Being organized is very important. Do not wait until the last day to fill out the application. Better, apply as early as you can. There could even be issues with your application that you may identify later so give yourself buffer time to smooth out any of these issues later.
Our advice is that you keep a calendar about the deadlines of scholarships.
Beware of scams
Many warning signs will give away any scams.
They are easy to spot if you are familiar with what to look for!
Here are some scholarship scam warning signs that you should look out for:
- They ask you to pay a fee to fill out the application.
- There is a guarantee that you will win.
- Those that ask for personal information like your social security number.
- Scholarships that haven’t listed their sponsor’s information.
Take time to research your options and lean on your friends, family, and teachers for support.
With a little hard work, you can walk out of college debt-free. All you need are the skills to apply for scholarships.