Do’s and Don’ts: Scholarship Applications

Here are the do's and don'ts of scholarship applications

Pixabay user johnhain

Nailing your scholarship application is the key to getting valuable free money towards your higher education. As with college applications, there are several do’s and don’ts that apply when applying for a scholarship. Adhering to these do’s and don’ts will help you submit a successful scholarship application:

Scholarship Applications Do’s:

Do dedicate a fair amount of time and energy towards finding and applying for scholarships. All colleges and organizations that offer scholarships do not have the necessary information emblazoned in the headlines. It is well worth taking the time and trouble to scour through websites and make phone calls to unearth unexpected opportunities that you qualify for.

Do explore and apply for scholarships in all categories that you may be a match for. If you qualify for academic as well as artistic scholarships, apply for both. The more scholarships you actively seek, the higher your odds of more scholarships.

Do start your scholarship search early. How early? Start now. The rule of thumb is the earlier the better. The process of looking for and applying to appropriate scholarships can be slow and time-consuming. Starting early will give you the time to sift through all of the information out there and complete the often lengthy application formalities.

Do submit your application as early as possible. Why wait until the deadline to submit your application? If you’ve started your search early and have got your application ready early, go ahead and submit it. The earlier you submit it, the earlier it will get reviewed and the sooner you will know whether your application was successful or not. That will help you move ahead one way or the other.

Do look around your community. You’ll be amazed at the number of scholarships available in your own community. These may be offered by city governments, service organizations, local businesses, or even individuals. Your community newspaper and the local chamber of commerce are great places to start your search.

Do take the time to go through and follow the instructions carefully for each of the scholarship. Every scholarship’s criteria is a different set of requirements and instructions. Reach the instructions for each scholarship carefully and follow them exactly. It would be a shame to get your application rejected simply because you sent in only one recommendation letter instead of two.

Do select your best teacher to write a recommendation letter. A good recommendation letter can make a world of a difference to the success of your application. While you cannot control exactly what’s written in the letter, you can influence the way it shapes up by choosing your letter writer carefully. Make sure it is someone who knows you well enough to write a compelling letter on your behalf.

Do stay organized. It’s easy to lose track of qualification criteria, requirements and deadlines when you are looking through so many details. Create a digital spreadsheet or a physical calendar to keep track of all key information, particularly deadlines.

Do be aware of scholarship scams. Unfortunately, scholarship scams do exist and they are difficult to recognize if you do not know what to look for. These are some of the more common signs of a scholarship scam you need to look out for—you have to pay to apply, the offer is guaranteed, you have to provide a your personal or financial information such as your social security number or your bank account number and lastly, you are offered a scholarship even though you did not apply to that particular organization.

Do keep your grades up. Do this even if you are applying for a non-academic scholarship. Almost all scholarships, whether academic or non-academic, require applicants to keep up a certain level of academic performance. If your grades are too low, your application may get disqualified automatically. However, if your grades aren’t the greatest, despite your hard work, don’t be entirely disheartened—there are many scholarships opportunities available based on merit other than academics.

Do use social media to your advantage. Some organizations may decide they want to know a little more about you and the best place to find what they are looking for is online. Take time to clean up your online presence and replace all objectionable pictures and posts with content that shows you off in a positive manner.

Scholarship Applications Don’ts:

Don’t restrict your scholarship search to the internet when looking for finding potential scholarships. Finding some opportunities requires ‘insider information’. Make use of all the resources at your disposal. Check with your college’s financial aid office, college professors, high-school guidance office or high-school teachers. Also ask your network of contacts and definitely make inquiries at the companies where your family members work. Many corporate offer scholarships to employees as well as their dependents.

Don’t make assumptions. If you come across a scholarship being offered by a sporting brand don’t ignore it assuming it will be only for athletes. Organizations do not necessarily restrict their scholarship offerings based on their products or services. Look into all opportunities you come across and only cross it off your list if you do not qualify.

Don’t apply to only one or two scholarships. You may be highly qualified for one or two scholarships but don’t forget, there will be hundreds of applicants just as qualified and some of them may just have an edge over you. Applying for scholarships is a numbers game. You have to apply to several to increase your odds.

Don’t be tempted to send the exact same essay with every application. Every organization has different requirements and different selection criteria. It is crucial to personalize your essay to fit the requirements.

Don’t ignore small scholarships for a big scholarship. They may not seem worth taking the time and trouble to apply to but every scholarship you get means that much less you have to borrow. It’s also worth remembering that there is no limit to the amount of scholarships you can apply for or win. Winning a few smaller scholarships can really add up and can be used to write off several smaller expenses such as books and boarding or it can be used to write off part of the tuition fees. In the end, every dollar does count.

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