Scholarship Tips 

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Master the Basics 

How to prepare 

  • Get organized and keep the scholarships you are working on separate from those you have not started. Use a calendar to keep track of dates and deadlines. Create a folder for each application and materials.
  • Know your time frame to apply. Complete and submit the easiest scholarships first. Then focus on the scholarships with earlier deadlines and ones that may require more time. Allow plenty of time when requesting letters of recommendation.

Submit your application  

  • Remember to check spelling and grammar.
  • Proofread your materials and have a teacher, parent or friend read over your application and essay if submitting online or by mail. They can provide feedback and catch mistakes.
  • Keep a copy of your application.

The Scholarship Essay  

 

Before you begin: Develop a theme that fits the scholarship. Learn about the scholarship provider’s mission and goals. Include elements in your essay to complement the sponsor’s expectations. For example, if the provider is interested in community service, highlight ways you impact your community within your essay. 

 

A few topic ideas:  

Personal achievements

  • Talk about specific interactions you may have had with others. Do you still keep in touch with anyone you’ve helped? How did you influence their lives?
  • How did your achievements reflect your values? Why are your achievements important to you? Did you do something that received high praise or recognition?
  • Personalize your experience. For example, what makes the volunteer and community service you’ve performed unique? What made you stand out?

Tip: Judges want to see how your achievements impact you personally! They are interested in what you have learned from your successes and challenges.  

  

Academic plans and possible major

  • Instead of saying, "Science is my favorite subject," discuss a specific assignment or project that you worked on that sparked your interest.
  • Avoid saying that you selected a major or career path to "help people." What specific actions can you take to improve the lives of others? Discuss how your values are relevant to what you will be studying in college.

 Tip: Don’t focus on the classes you hope to take in college. Focus on your academic degree and future goals and why they are important to you.  

 

Social issues and current events

  • Think about current issues or events in the news that you feel strongly about.
  • Do you know a lot about a controversial topic?
  • Do you know of someone who is directly involved in an issue who might be able to provide insight?

Tip: Summarize the issue(s) briefly. Share your perspective, offer constructive suggestions and address all sides of the issue, not just your own opinion.  

  

Mentors, people you admire, and influences

  • Think about your friends and family, community and the things you’ve learned outside of the classroom. Pick specific people, incidents and learning experiences to write about that will let your personality come through.
  • Is there a person you aspire to be like within your chosen major or career path? Someone who encouraged you to succeed?
  • Focus on specific qualities or actions that the person has inspired in you.

Tip: When writing about others, be sure to focus on how this person has inspired you and shaped your life.  

 

Tips on Winning a Scholarship  

  • Personalize your essay and be passionate. Write about something of interest to you. Make your application stand out from the crowd. Talk about your impact on other people. Give examples and be specific.
  • Google your name to ensure that you have a professional online presence. Use a clean email address, such as firstname.lastname@gmail.com. Review your Facebook account, removing inappropriate and immature material.

  • If you have difficulty writing essays, record yourself as you answer the question out loud and transcribe the recording. Most people think and speak faster than they can write or type. Write an outline afterward to organize your thoughts.

     

Common Scholarship Application Mistakes  

  • Missing deadlines
  • Failing to proofread the application
  • Failing to follow directions, especially regarding essay length and the number of recommendations
  • Omitting required information
  • Applying for an award when you don't qualify
  • Failing to apply for an award for which you are eligible
  • Failing to tailor the application to the sponsor
  • Writing a boring essay
  • Writing an essay that may offend the reviewer
  • Including exaggerations or lies on your application

 

 

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