It can be a chore to finish one application to a school, let alone filling out several scholarship applications. But sometimes, getting free money for tuition is worth the effort. Follow these tips to applying for scholarships to have the best chance at a win:
1. Read the Application in Detail
No two scholarships are the same. You can’t fill out one, copy/paste your essay across several, then hope for the best. Be sure to carefully read the prompts and directions. For example, one scholarship may require you to create a Mother’s Day card, but another’s prompt may be about something weird you ate at Thanksgiving. This is especially true for essay word-count limits. If a provider requests that you stay below 250 words and you submit one at 327, your submission will be rejected. Don’t waste your time, or the provider’s, by ignoring the scholarship rules and guidelines.
2. Plan Before You Start
Scholarship providers will likely request certain information in your application or after you’re selected as a winner. Here are some items to prepare before you begin your scholarship search:
A one-page student resume including:
- your contact information
- details on any volunteer or work experience
- club memberships and leadership positions
- any awards or honors.
Depending on your intended field of study, such as theater or art, you may also need to create an additional one-page version that highlights your performance experience, workshops or additional studies (private lessons, summer programs, etc.).
- A personal statement: Be sure this is different from your resume. Your personal statement is more of a brand statement for who you are, not a laundry list of achievements.
- A copy of your birth certificate or passport: Unfortunately, scammers want in on the free-money action, too. Organizations will want to confirm your identity before handing out award money.
- A professional-looking headshot: Dress up in something without a hood and snap a pic! Use a spot with good lighting and smile for the camera. Make sure your file is a .jpg for easy sharing. You’ll want to look amazing when they post your name and picture to the winner’s page!
3. Be Clear and Concise
Programs can receive thousands of scholarship applications, but there’s one chance for you to stand out! It’s very important for you to grab the scholarship reviewer’s attention and keep it. Get to the point and don’t overthink your writing. Long, run-on sentences and big words will put a committee to sleep or make your essay difficult to read. Either way, it won’t help move your application to the top.
4. Stay on Topic
Look at what the provider of the scholarship is asking for and give them exactly what they want. Never lie on an application form. Let your personality shine through. If the provider is looking for a creative essay about your favorite Halloween costume, don’t write about life’s hardships. The provider may feel sympathetic, but they won’t consider anything outside of the prompt.
5. Proofread and Revise (Don’t Skip This!)
Never submit a scholarship application without reviewing it first. When proofreading, make sure you’ve answered all application questions and that your essay meets all required guidelines. Include all requested personal information. After writing your first draft, sleep on it before you submit. Wait 24 hours after before reviewing your essay for grammatical errors. When you look at it with a fresh perspective, you’re more likely to find small errors and ways to improve your previous version. Just remember, a typo or misspelled word can easily become a $1,000 mistake.
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