Applying for scholarships just makes sense. Winning a scholarship means spending less out of pocket money, which is very important for college students on a strict budget. But no one is going to simply hand you a wad of money.
It can be daunting at the beginning but getting started is essential. The second application is easier than the first. Besides, the practice you’ll get from polishing your scholarship applications can help prepare you for future job hunting.
Follow the tips below to make scholarship applications easier and more effective:
1. Join extracurricular activities – It’s not just the grades. Committees review what you do beyond class and your extracurricular activities can be a major factor. These activities show your interests and skills. You can pick ones aligned with your major, what you’re good at or simply what you are enthused about.
2. Don’t stop searching – Don’t stop applying. Send one and march to the next. You may not win the first, or the second. Improve your application and try again. Persistence is the key to scholarship success. Some scholarships are highly competitive, but they are still worth trying. One sure way to not get a scholarship is stop applying. Don’t give up.
3. Beware of college scholarship scams – Unfortunately, there are scholarship scammers out there who profit off of cheating families out of money. Be wary of signs such as unsolicited offers, lofty promises, no phone, fees or requests for personal information. Make sure that you are applying for scholarships from credible sources. Do additional research before giving any information to a site that seems shady. If it sounds too good to be true, it may well be.
4. Find full scholarship information – Learn all you can about the scholarship, who offers it and the history. Study the application requirements thoroughly and make sure that you prepare all materials needed to apply. Also try learning what past winners did right. You can learn a lot by examining what has worked in the past.
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5. Make sure you qualify for the scholarship before you apply – Don’t waste time filling out applications for scholarships that you don’t qualify for. Read through all of the application requirements before you actually start the process to make sure that you meet every one. For example, if you don’t have the right grade point average, don’t bother applying for that one. Requirements exist for a reason, so keep your focus on the ones that are applicable to you. Look for qualifications that best match you and school career beyond the basic requirements. Satisfy as many as possible. A few tightly targeted applications are better than a slew of scattershot tries.
6. Be honest – It shouldn’t have to be said, but be forthright. Don’t fudge or exaggerate grades, accomplishments or memberships. When possible or necessary, submit proof for what you say. People who hand out money will check, so honesty is definitely the best policy.
7. Be organized – Deadlines aren’t secret, but easy to forget amid a messy work space. Organize, have a calendar with important dates always in view. Have papers, applications and anything else where you can find them. There are apps and online tools that can send reminders for due dates and let you set a schedule for your application efforts. Or you could keep it simple with a paper calendar. Either way, keep track of when things are due. Another sure way to not get a scholarship is to miss the deadline.
8. Create an accomplishments resume – An accomplishments resume lists what you’ve done and shows specific dates for when you joined clubs or organizations, received awards and started jobs. It lists your responsibilities and recommendations from a boss. This becomes a reference for dates, names and other pertinent information. Having an accomplishments resume on-hand allows you to add specific information to essays and applications in a more efficient manner.
9. Proofread everything – This is of vital importance; proofread everything. Everyone needs an editor. Have someone read your copy, preferably a couple of people. Fresh eyes often spot mistakes you missed. Go over everything again before sending the application. Misspellings, bungled grammar or typos are sure paths to the bottom of the pile. An otherwise great application can be ruined by one simple mistake, so take extra time to be careful.
10. Your application represents YOU so take pride by submitting the best application possible – Every application showcases your efforts, achievements and who you are. The person reading it only knows you from your application, so each should be your best.
Organization, perseverance, accuracy and research will carry you far in seeking scholarships. As you gain experience and confidence, each application becomes easier and more likely to be successful.
Ta’Rikah Jones is a contributor at U.S News University Directory, a trusted resource for locating college degree programs and career information online. Learn more at http://www.usnewsuniversitydirectory.com/