Finding scholarships is easy. Winning them is more of a challenge. However, there are ways to increase your chances of winning the scholarships you apply for. Here are a few tips to guide you through the process.
Before You Apply
- Compile your data: Start the process of applying for scholarships by putting together a list of your academic, professional, personal and community-related accomplishments. Then pull this information as needed for various scholarship programs.
- Plan ahead: If you need a recommendation letter, ask for it early and choose your recommender carefully. Your recommender should be able to write an informed letter that provides specific examples of you, your personality and your accomplishments.
- Know the requirements: Read all of the eligibility requirements for a scholarship program before you do anything else. You don’t want to spend time working on an application for a scholarship that you aren’t eligible to win.
- Stay on top of deadlines: Check the scholarship deadline and make note of it. Your application will be dismissed if it is not submitted or postmarked by the required date.
- Read the instructions: Take time to review the application instructions thoroughly. Make note of what you need to do and how much time you will need to accomplish each task.
- Follow the rules: For example, if you are asked to submit a 1,000-word essay with your application, make sure the essay is 1,000 words–not 500 words or 2,000 words.
- Proofread: Ask someone to review your entire application package before you submit it. Spelling errors, sloppiness, and other mistakes will hurt your chances of winning.
- Take advantage of all your options: Do not ignore small or local scholarships. They can sometimes be the easiest to win because there are fewer applicants.
- Customize your application: Identify the goal of the scholarship program. Does the committee want to promote ethics or interest in a particular field? Do they want to identify viable business ideas or business leaders? Knowing the goal will help you tailor your application accordingly.
- Research previous winners: Search out information about past winners of the scholarships you are applying for. Most programs list previous winners and offer notes as to why these applicants stood out among competitors.
- Highlight your strengths: Showcase positive aspects of your personality in the application if you can. Scholarship committees love to see examples of community service, extracurricular activities and perseverance through hardship.
- Be clear and concise: Do not write an abstract essay; use concrete examples whenever possible. Committees want to read about you and your experiences, not vague ideas or unfounded philosophies.
- Keep your records up to date: Make a copy of everything you send out in case you have to resubmit it or are able to use it for another scholarship application.