Spending time looking for scholarships to help pay for college is a great idea. But to maximize your efforts, you must implement tips that will help you win those hard-to-get awards. Scholarships tend to get very competitive. Sponsors receive hundreds of scholarship application letters for every scholarship opportunity and they can afford to be very selective when choosing a winner. These 7 tips for winning scholarships will increase your chances of being the ‘chosen one’.
Send Out Several Scholarship Application Letters in Different Categories
In many ways, winning scholarships is a numbers game. The more scholarships you apply for, the higher your chances of winning. Completing several scholarship application letters may take up a large chunk of your time but it’s still worth it. Better to put in the hard work now rather than having to work hard to pay back your student loans.
When applying to scholarships, cast a wide net. Just because you’re a math whiz, don’t just apply to math scholarships. Look for others that you may qualify for and apply to them too. For example, you could apply for faith-based or minority-based opportunities.
If you have an unusual skill, chances are there could be a scholarship for that too. Do you speak Klingon, or sing in the choir? Are you a talented duck caller or are you taller than 6’2”? All of these could qualify for scholarship money in that category.
Look for unusual scholarships and apply to all that you qualify for.
Apply To Scholarships With Smaller Awards
Why spend time on the small awards when there are so many bigger awards available, right? Wrong. The bigger the award, the more intense the competition, and the more difficult it is to win that scholarship. It’s not impossible, just difficult. Aiming only for the big awards considering lowers your chances of winning any award at all.
It’s worth putting in the effort to apply for smaller scholarships. They are easier to win and if you get multiple awards, the money will add up. Even if you do not win enough to cover the cost of tuition, winning smaller amounts that can offset the cost of textbooks, living expenses, and other college or dorm supplies can eventually add up to significant savings.
Read the Scholarship Instructions Carefully
The organization has taken the trouble to provide instructions and they expect you to follow it. Not following the instructions provided will count against your during the evaluation stage. If the instructions say to submit 2 letters of recommendation, don’t submit 3 in the hope that it will bolster your application. It won’t. Instead, it may even harm your chances of winning.
Choose Your Letter Writers Well
Most scholarships will ask you to submit one or two letters of recommendation. Some may specify who that letter writer has to be, while others will leave it up to you to choose. Asking the right person can make a huge difference. A well-written letter from your high school teacher or advisor who has a personal connection with you and knows your academic goals will hold much more weight than a letter from a well-known personality who does not know you.
While on the subject of recommendation letters, remember to ask well in advance. It takes time to write a letter of recommendation and the person you are asking may have their calendar full with other commitments. Respect their schedule and ask well ahead of time. This also gives them time to think about what to write so that it shows you off in the best light while still being genuine.
Blow Them Away With Your Essay
The essay is one of the most important elements of your scholarship application. Tailor the tone and the content of the essay to align with the interests and vision of the sponsoring organization. Doing this will give your application a tremendous boost.
Remember to keep the word count of your essay as close as possible to the word count specified. Double-check that your essay answers all the questions asked and satisfies all the requirements.
Last but not least, take time to proofread your essay. After you’ve proofread it, ask a parent, teacher or guidance counselor to look it over for anything you may have overlooked.
Maintain a Professional Online Presence
Today, the easiest way to get to know some more about a person without actually meeting them is by checking their online profiles. Chances are all scholarship organizations and even colleges that you apply to will look you up on some of the more popular social media networks.
Do yourself a favor and clean up your profile on all social media platforms. Create a LinkedIn profile. Instead of posting party pictures on Facebook and Instagram, use these platforms to highlight your extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and community involvement. Talk about your accomplishments and your academic goals.
Every scholarship has its own eligibility criteria, application procedure, and submission deadline. When you are applying to many scholarships, you could get the details mixed up and overlook some important detail, causing you to lose out on the opportunity. Missing a deadline, in particular, can be disastrous. You cannot win an award if the organization has not received your application in the first place. Creating a spreadsheet or whatever other strategy helps you stay organized will reduce the chances of missing out on an opportunity because of an oversight.
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