How to Apply for Scholarships
Applying for your scholarship is the first step along your journey to financial aid for college. When you consider the diversity of the scholarships that are available each year, and the competition that exists for them all, you will realize just how important it is to get the application process right. All scholarship applications are different so be prepared to give equal attention to them all.
Assuming you have chosen the scholarships for which you wish to apply it is time to come to grips with the actual process. Many scholarship providers such as the Morris and Stewart Udall Foundation and the Harry S Truman Foundation have sample applications on line that you can download to help you get a good feel for how you will approach the actual application when the time comes. Your scholarship applications are a vital step on your search for financial aid and it is important to get them right.
The following steps will help you maximize the potential of all of your scholarship applications:
- Read Everything (And Read It Again)
Simply following the directions won't result in the best application possible. Before you put pen to paper, or let your fingers hit the keyboard, you need to have read and understood every part of the scholarship application. Read it through once, and then read it through again. Many students' applications are are discarded simply because they failed to understand the application and have filled it out incorrectly. Competition is high for these scholarships and an oversight could put you out of the running. By submitting a flawless application you have already put yourself ahead of a lot of the competition.
- Talk Yourself Up
Honesty is always the best policy when working on your scholarship applications, but there is no reason you shouldn't promote yourself when you can. Let's say one of the questions on the application is "What are your weaknesses?", and your answer is "I'm a bit shy." You don't want to say you find it difficult talking to people and prefer to keep to yourself. Acknowledge your shyness but go on to emphasize how you are overcoming it and how your shyness has benefited you in your ability to see other people points of view and to respect others opinions. You are still being truthful, but you are also talking yourself up. Be creative and look for ways to promote your accomplishments and your good character.
- Never Waver From the Topic
When you apply for any scholarship the worst thing you can do is stray from the topic at hand. This is especially true if the scholarship is sponsored by a specific organization and focuses on a particular issue. For example, let's say a printer ink cartridge manufacturer is offering a scholarship in conjunction with their recycling program. The essay you may be asked to write has to do with ways you would conserve resources and recycle old technology. It would be very detrimental to your essay if you veered off topic to discuss oil drilling in Alaska.
Many student's applications are dismissed because they don't stay focused in their essays. Many applicants want to show the entire depth of their knowledge on a given topic in an effort to prove they are qualified for the scholarship that is being offered. But doing so often end up getting them excluded from consideration all together. Remember, be concise and to the point.
This doesn't just apply to applications with an essay portion. Many scholarship applications do not require full essays but do feature several questions that need to be answered honestly and with precision. Failing to be succinct and to the point will only get your application moved to the bottom of the pile.
Be Relevant and Be Concise
Many scholarship applications will consist of a personal essay designed to let the review board know a little about you and your goals for the future. It here that you will have the opportunity to talk about your family background, your accomplishments both in the classroom and in your community and your goals for college and beyond. Your essay should be truthful and heartfelt while it promotes the best aspects of your character and motivations. Here is your chance to make your case for why YOU should win the coveted scholarship.
There are three main points to stress in your personal essay:
- Who You Are – Discuss your personal background, your family, your academic and extra curricular successes and your motivation for going to college
- Where You Want To Go – What are your ultimate career goals. If the scholarship is offered by a corporation or organization explain how your goals dove tail with the work they are doing and may do in the future
- What Are You Looking To Get – Here you can discuss further your experiences with community service, your hopes for the future and what a college education will mean to you and your family
Above all adhere to the guidelines set by the scholarship to which you are applying. If you are asked to write a two page or 2500 word essay submit just that. The review board will be impressed with content not quantity. Remember you are your best asset. Be unique, be positive and speak from the heart.
Get a Second Opinion
Before you mail anything in, always get a second opinion. If you had to write an essay, have a trusted friend, parent or teacher proofread your work and offer constructive feedback. Also be sure to provide the prompt you were given so they can evaluate your ability to stay on target. As you know by now, focus and clarity are very important to scholarship judges.
When filling out any standardized forms for your application it's helpful you write out your answers on a separate sheet of paper first. You may even want to type them up and read them through, editing where you see fit. This takes the pressure off having to write concise yet clear answers in a confined space. Writing it out beforehand will give you something to work from.
Whether you apply for an academic scholarship or an athletic scholarship; a corporate funded scholarship or a civic organizations scholarship these tips will help you succeed in producing a clear and concise application. While the each scholarship will offer different challenges and will have different demands if you remember to follow the guidelines closely, stay focused and on topic and be positive about yourself and your goals you will increase your chances of being accepted by the review committee.
Regardless of your background, ethnicity, gender or interests there is likely a scholarship waiting to suit your needs. Make sure you check out other aspects of the scholarship section where you can learn about scholarships aimed at specific people with specific interests, such as nursing scholarships, art scholarships and even graduate fellowships. You've worked hard throughout your academic career and now is the time to make that hard work pay-off in the form of a scholarship to help make your college dreams a reality.
Increase Your Chances for College Scholarships
To help you be able to manage the costs of higher education, we have created some content specific for you to help you achieve success by teaching you how to find more college scholarships.