How Are Scholarship Winners Determined?

Flickr user Sebastien Wiertz

You put a lot of time and effort into crafting a scholarship application. You likely create and submit dozens in order to help fund your college education. But have you ever wondered what it’s like to be on the other end of a scholarship application? What do scholarship sponsors go through to pick a winner?

Phase One: The Scholarship Application Glance Over

Just like resumes, scholarship judges will first give an application a glance-over. This includes reading over the basics—name, details like GPA or test scores, qualifications, organization, mistakes, etc. The glance-over doesn’t necessarily last long, but it is an important step in the process. Some scholarship applications might be tossed out after this first stage due to egregious errors or lack of qualification.

Phase Two: A Closer Look at the Application

Of course, judges will pore over each application more closely as well. At this point they will read any essays or recommendation letters you sent in, as well as review more juicy details like extracurricular activities, volunteer experience, and so on. They begin to weed out more scholarships at this point.

Phase Three: Compare and Contrast the Applications

Once the judges have reviewed the applications, they’ll take remaining contenders and compare them against one another. Down in the nitty gritty, judges will compare GPAs, test scores, experiences, essays, in order to see which candidate is most suited for their scholarship award. After this step, they’ll pick their winner—or winners, depending—and send out notifications to the lucky and deserving student.

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