10 Tips on How To Win A Scholarship: What You Need To Know
When it comes to higher education, the cost of tuition doesn’t tend to be the biggest expense you’ll have to worry about, at least not directly. As soon as you decide on which degree and school to pursue, you’ll likely have to start thinking about how you’re going to pay for it all — room and board, books, and tuition can quickly add up into the thousands of dollars per year. Thankfully, one way you can cover some or all of this cost is by applying for scholarships . . . but that doesn’t mean getting them will be easy!
1) Don’t get discouraged if you don’t win your first time
The key to scholarship success is patience and persistence. No matter how qualified you are, you’re competing against other top-notch students with similar goals, so it’s important not to take rejection personally. Be honest about what you can do well and remember that awards are an acknowledgment of your strengths, not a complete assessment of your character. And finally, don’t forget to have fun along the way – even if it means doing things differently than others! There’s no one way to win a scholarship, so whatever approach works for you will be just fine. As long as your intentions are true and pure, there’s nothing to lose by trying something new!
2) Consider applying to both national and local scholarships
Scholarships offered by individual colleges or organizations may be easier to apply for and win. For example, if you’re interested in a scholarship from American Medical Student Association (AMSA), you can find out which chapters at local medical schools have applications. While some scholarships may be applied for online, most are completed with an application form mailed directly to organizers. While your chances of winning a national scholarship are lower, they are more prestigious and often result in less competition. So, if you’re unsure about whether to apply for a local or national scholarship, why not hedge your bets? (Note: Scholarships that require an application fee aren’t included in these 10 tips.)
3) Identify what scholarship you’re targeting
From a bird’s eye view, college scholarships can be grouped into four broad categories. The type of award you’re going after will influence how you apply, so it’s important to take a minute and identify what kind of scholarship you’re targeting. For example, did your school offer a major-specific scholarship? Is there an organization within your community that has an annual merit award that you’ve been eyeing? Or do you have a dream college or graduate program in mind and are looking for any opportunity to help bridge that gap? Are you aiming for awards geared towards students pursuing non-traditional education (e.g., returning to school) or students with a specific career path? Knowing what scholarship is right for you is essential to winning it.
4) Understand the application requirements
Every scholarship out there has a different application procedure. Some applications will require you to write an essay, while others may have questionnaires or a checklist. Make sure you understand what’s expected of you before applying, as filling out every form takes time and effort that could be better spent on other parts of your application package. Additionally, double-check that your application is complete and includes everything requested of you before submitting. Remember, failure to follow directions is one of those common mistakes we mentioned earlier! It can hurt your chances just as much as it would hurt a job applicant who failed to dot his/her i’s and cross his/her t’s in an interview.
5) Create a timeline
It is important to create a timeline when applying for any scholarship. After receiving your list of scholarships, you should immediately start your research and gather as much information as possible. This will help you formulate a timeline that will allow you to complete each of these applications in an orderly fashion. The sooner you begin your research and gathering of information, with provide you with more time to thoroughly prepare for each application.
6) Research like crazy
For every scholarship, there’s a different set of judges and criteria. Be sure to research each one carefully, as each has its own style and take on what makes a strong application. It might seem tedious, but that first-hand knowledge will help you make your case.
7) Stay organized
The scholarship application process is a complicated one. Scholarships vary widely in terms of their length, structure, and deadline. Keeping up with them requires good organization and management skills. Even if you don’t win any money from scholarships, learning how to stay organized early on can help set you up for academic success later on in life. Plus, there’s also something about completing tasks methodically that makes people look good to employers!
8) Get your parents on board!
Many scholarships are based on financial need. For most types of scholarships, your parents have to fill out paperwork with their tax information and income details. If you’re not sure if you qualify for a scholarship, talk to your school counselor or a teacher about finding out more information from organizations that award money to students with financial needs. Most will want parents involved so they can find ways for students to reduce college costs that don’t affect their overall education.
9) Review your essay drafts with teachers or peers
Even after you’ve proofread your essays, reading them out loud to a teacher or friend will help catch misused words and typos. This is especially important if you want to sound polished and professional on paper.
10) Be yourself in the interview
Interviewers are human too and are bound to spot someone who seems disingenuous. So, when you’re in that interview room, be honest about your weaknesses and strengths, do your research on that particular university, answer questions confidently and don’t try to pretend like you know more than you actually do.