The following is a guest post from JLV College Counseling. Thanks Jessica!
Scholarships can be a great help when it comes to paying for college. However, many students become frustrated when they do not win. While we cannot know exactly what scholarship committees are looking for in their applicants, there are some things that can help you when they are making their decisions. Below are 15 ways that can increase your odds of winning a scholarship.
- Meet the requirements. One of the first ways scholarships providers narrow down their applicant pool is to not consider applicants who do not meet their requirements. The scholarship providers choose their requirements for a reason; if you don’t meet their requirements, they probably won’t consider you.
- Follow instructions. If someone cannot follow the instructions laid out for the scholarship, it may automatically disqualify them. Make sure you do everything the scholarship provider requires you to do.
- Apply local. Scholarships that are open to local students typically have a smaller applicant pool, which means there is less competition. Visit your school counselor’s office to see if they have a list of local scholarships. You may also find local scholarships by visiting other local high school and business websites. Lastly, do online searches for local scholarships in your area such as, “scholarships in [city name], “scholarships in [county name],” or “scholarships in [state name.]”
- Apply smaller. A big mistake many students make is that they focus all of their time and energy on the larger scholarships. The thought process behind this is that if they spend some time applying for this scholarship and win the scholarship, it could knock out a big chunk of their tuition bill. The only problem with that thought process is that many students have this same idea and there will be a lot of competition. Therefore, apply to the smaller scholarships because they might have less competition.
- Do some work. There are many scholarships out there that only require students to fill out a short form and then they are entered into the scholarship. These types of scholarships are usually more like a sweepstakes or lottery – anyone can win. You should definitely apply for these easy scholarships because they don’t take up much time, but don’t ignore the scholarships that ask for a little more. Students are busy and many don’t want to do any extra essays or work, even if it is for a scholarship to help them pay for college. Scholarships that require an essay usually receive less applicants, and again, this means less competition.
- Answer the full prompt. Sometimes we get so focused on answering one part of the essay question that we miss out on the point of what the scholarship provider is asking. Make sure your essay fully answers the question.
- Meet the word count. Some scholarship committees will be very particular about word counts. If you don’t follow the directions, it could automatically disqualify your application.
- Proofread. Spelling or grammar errors will not win you points. In fact, for some scholarship, errors in the essay could make it easier for the scholarship providers to narrow down the applicant list. Proofread your essay. It might also be worth it to bring someone else in to read it because they are not as close to the product as you. Someone else might spot something you missed.
- Stand out. Scholarship providers receive a lot of essays and many are very similar. If someone else could send in the same essay, they probably will. Many winning scholarship essays are the essays that stay with the readers long after the scholarship is awarded because it stood out from the crowd.
- Apply early. Don’t procrastinate and wait until the due date. Something could come up, power could go out, internet might be down. You never know what could happen. Most scholarship providers will not accept applications after the deadline, so ensure your application is in early.
- Learn about the scholarship provider. Reviewing scholarship provider’s websites can help you learn what the company or organization values. Many scholarship providers may be looking for individuals who also share the same values. Keep this in mind when you are filling out the application or answering the essay questions.
- Learn about past winners. Some scholarship providers provide information on previous winners. Sometimes they may even share the winner’s application or essay. While you should always be yourself, seeing the winner’s information could help you get a sense of what the scholarship provider is looking for in their scholarship winner.
- Don’t bank on one or two scholarships. Apply for as many scholarships as you can. While it does take some time to apply for scholarship, we all have a little extra time. Build scholarship time into your schedule – treat it like a job. Think of it like this – spending one hour to win a $1,000 scholarship is pretty good use of your time.
- Reuse and Recycle. Applying for scholarships can be time consuming. However, there is usually no rule against reusing or recycling an essay. Keep all school and scholarships essays easily accessible. If there is an essay you already wrote that could answer the question, reuse it! However, make sure you edit the essay to cater to the specific scholarship.
- Don’t give up. It can be discouraging when you find out you did not win a scholarship. However, that should not be a reason to give up. There are thousands of scholarships out there and if you continue to submit quality applications and essays, you just may win a scholarship.