Winning a scholarship is one of the best and convenient options to finance your college studies. Unlike loans, scholarships are gifts that never have to be repaid. Here, we know how challenging the scholarship process must be for you. That’s why we’ve compiled these 10 best tips that will help you not just to apply for scholarships, but to win them.
Tuition fees are at an all-time high which has led to an even higher demand for scholarships. Roughly three out of four graduates are walking away with over $40,000 of debt that (on average) takes many years to repay. In order to avert this, it is best to apply for as many scholarships as possible (that is – laying your eggs in as many baskets as possible). Lets dive in.
Things You Most Do To Win Your First Scholarship
1.) PRESENT A POWERFUL PERSONAL STATEMENT
Before you try to convince a scholarship committee that you deserve a scholarship, you have to convince yourself first. Identify your strengths and weaknesses: be realistic, but optimistic. Recap your academic achievements, extra-curricular activities, and think about your long-term goals. In order to stand out from the crowd, have a clear answer for the following: If you were to be awarded a scholarship, what doors would that open for you? And how would you take advantage of those opportunities to make the world a better place? Make sure this shines through in your written essays. Scholarship committees are more likely to invest in a powerful story than a strong GPA and shiny extra-curricular.
2.) LAY YOUR EGGS IN DIFFERENT BASKETS
Like I said you need to begin laying all your eggs in different baskets. Let’s be real. Scholarships are a numbers’ game. You’re not going to win them all, but through repeated, consistent effort, you will win a good percentage of the ones you apply for. If you are eligible for a scholarship, apply without additional questions or doubts. Some of the scholarships are not as great or prestigious, but applying for them will increase your chances of winning more money and decreasing the out-of-pocket cost of your/your child’s degree. Always remember that you can cover tuition fees and living expenses not only with one, but multiple, scholarships. Never think that the amount of financial aid is too little; they can still cover your learning materials, rent, and additional costs.
3.) GET SUPPORT
Remember you do not have to go through with the process alone. If and when you need support, ask for it. Many colleges offer consultations about scholarship opportunities, ask for information at the school, in your community. This way you can get valuable information and assistance.
Also, do not hesitate to ask for moral encouragement. Applying for college scholarships is a stressful process and the people around you can provide support. There are also various student clubs online clubs, and various social media platform that offer help and encouragement during the scholarship application process. They can share information about scholarship opportunities as well as provide friendly comfort.
4.) BE ACTIVE ONLINE
We live in the digital age when even your social media profile photo can say a lot about you. Before applying, make sure your social media profiles match the values and views you have expressed in your essays. Many college scholarships ask for social media links and many committee members take into account the overall information they get from your social media profile. You can use your social media accounts to make a good impression and use them to your advantage.
This would seem to go without saying, but you’d be surprised! Be sure to read the directions carefully before you start filling out your application. Don’t assume you know what to do already.
Do your research! We know it’s time-consuming and exhausting, but believe us, it’s worth it! Find out what type of scholarships are suitable for your interests and background. Look for different options online. Remember that there are plenty of scholarships based on gender, academic achievements, special skills and talents, ethnicity etc. There is college scholarships fitted for very specific talents and interests and you might be suited for those opportunities. If you know what your skills and advantages are, you can use them to tailor the scholarships you apply for, and ultimately better your chances!
6.) BE PREPARED
Answer every question. If a question doesn’t apply, don’t leave the answer field blank. Write “N/A” in the field, or, if the reason the question doesn’t apply isn’t obvious, include the reason. Be sure to supply all additional supporting material, such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, and essays.
Any document that supports your academic achievement, participation in extracurricular activities, volunteer work, or other activities must be collected in advance (think: resume, transcript, etc.) This way, you will be prepared for any scholarship application. All these documents prove that you are a worthy candidate and they can have a huge influence on the scholarship committee.
7.) WRITE INSPIRATIONAL SCHOLARSHIP ESSAY
The key to writing a strong essay is to be personal, authentic, and specific. Include concrete details to make your experience come alive. Even the simplest experience can be monumental if you present honestly how you were affected.
This is one of the most challenging parts of the scholarship process. In your essays, you do not want to state the obvious, but you want to show the committee your goals, passion, aspirations. This is where you will get to showcase the narrative you crafted for yourself.
8.) CREATE A SCHOLARSHIP TO DO LIST
Provide everything the application asks for, but don’t supply things that aren’t requested — you could be disqualified.
Organizing information is crucial to the overall success of any student. To stay organized, we recommend you create a scholarship to do list. Monitor which scholarship needs which document and make sure you are not missing anything. As this is a common struggle among students and parents alike.
To help keep yourself on track, impose your own deadline that is at least two weeks before the official deadline, except for programs with shorter notices. Use the perfect time to make sure everything is ready on time and you don’t have to rush through the application. Don’t rely on extensions — very few scholarship providers allow them at all.
9.) TRACK SCHOLARSHIPS
Tracking all the different scholarship and funding programs can be challenging and in order to solve that, you can create a Scholarship Calendar. You can mark every scholarship deadline, as well as the dates of the winner announcement. This trick will not let you skip any deadline and will make sure you stay updated on your application status.
10.) PREPARE FOR THE INTERVIEW
For most scholarships, especially the competitive, you would usually be required to attend an interview session as part of the application selection procedures. It is said that practice is the key to your success. Research commonly asked questions during scholarship interviews and think about your answers. You can write them down and then practice them in front of a mirror. The best option is to ask a friend or a family member to interview you and give you feedback. Also, you can record yourself, then watch and judge if you expressed your thoughts eloquently. Make sure that you are dressed properly even if the interview is held online, it is important to look professional!
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