Some scholarships are awarded by lottery, and recipients are chosen at random. While these scholarship awards may provide some much needed funds for your college education, your chances of winning are just that – a chance. Most scholarship awards, however, are determined by committee. A review board judges scholarship applications based on a predetermined criteria. In the case of most scholarships this is either financial need, or academic merit.
Let's take some time to look at merit scholarships, and how you can improve your chances of winning that much needed financial boost to help pay for college.
Students planning to enroll in college immediately after high school need to begin searching for appropriate scholarship competitions early. While you are in your sophomore year of high school, start looking for scholarship programs which meet your projected education and career path. Many scholarships certain prerequisites that you will need to meet in order to qualify. A scholarship may require that you have taken certain courses while in high school, or may require a necessary level of extracurricular activity and community service in order to be considered eligible. By beginning your scholarship search early, you allow yourself plenty of time to find the right program, and to prepare yourself to meet it's requirements.
When it comes time to start applying for scholarships, choose only those awards for which you are qualified. There is little point in spending the time on a scholarship application and essay submission only to find you were not an eligible candidate. Beginning your scholarship search early will help you avoid this pitfall. Choose only those scholarships that match your college career path, and that have requirements you are able to meet.
High profile scholarship awards have the benefit of being easy to find, and they may seem the logical choice when it comes time to look for college funding. But high profile means high demand, and these scholarships will have a large pool of applicants for the review board to consider. The larger the applicant pool, the lower your odds of being awarded the scholarship you are after.
Concentrate your efforts on scholarships that are less well known. Many of the lower profile scholarship awards offer substantial payouts, and can go a long way toward helping you cover the costs of your college tuition. Local and regional scholarships are a good place to start, as are smaller funded and less advertised national programs. This is not to say that you should avoid all of the larger national scholarship programs. If you find you meet all of the requirements, and the prestigious national scholarship calls to you, definitely apply. After all, you can't win what you don't apply for. Ut be prepared to face some very sizable competition.
The essay submission is possibly the most important aspect of any scholarship application. It is your chance to grab the review boards attention, and to prove your potential value as a student. Writing an impressive essay can be difficult, but if you take the time and apply yourself to the task you can turn in an essay submission that will increase your chances of winning that much needed college funding.
When approaching your scholarship essay, stay on topic, remain focused and try to be as engaging as possible. The review board will be looking at a repetitive stream of essay submissions, and if you can present a piece that is unique and engaging then half your scholarship battle is won. Refer to the GoCollege guide to writing your scholarship essay for tips on how to improve your essay submission.
Many academic scholarships, particularly those with large financial awards, require a sit down, face to face interview with the finalists. The scholarship review board holds these interviews in order to better determine who is the most deserving of the award in question. If you make it to the final stages of the scholarship review, and you are lucky enough to be called for an interview, it is vital that you be prepared.
Scholarship interviews tend to make students nervous, and that is understandable. The review board expects some level of anxiety in there interviewees, and will not mark you off for being nervous. But lack of preparation is another matter. Before your interview, review your application and essay submission so they will be fresh in your mind. If you can, have a trusted friend or teacher conduct a mock interview so you can practice your interpersonal skills. Use the GoCollege Guide to Scholarship Interviews for tips on how to prepare yourself to give an outstanding interview.
As you complete you scholarship application, and prepare you essay submission, it is important that you be yourself. While it is always tempting to puff yourself up on the scholarship application, it is all to easy to get caught when the time comes for the final interview. The review board will evaluate your written application first, and the more honest and forthright you are the easier the interview process will be. Be secure in your potential as a student and your value as a person, and be as a honest and open on your application as possible. The review board want to get to know you, and you do them and yourself a disservice by trying to be someone else.
Winning a scholarships takes a fare amount of determination and a little bit of luck. But by applying yourself, and following these tips you can increase your chances of winning that much needed funding to make your college goal a reality.