8 Reasons Why Your Scholarship Application Will Fail
There are thousands of scholarship applications that are submitted each year, but only 1% of applicants will win the award and receive the scholarship money. What’s the difference between those who win and those who don’t? The application itself! Here are 8 reasons why your scholarship application will fail and what you can do to prevent that from happening.
1) Not following directions
Many scholarships are awarded to people who not only show interest in a particular subject, but also demonstrate that they are good at it. Before you start writing your essay, make sure to check out what is asked of you—not following directions can be detrimental to your chances of winning. For example, let’s say a scholarship wants you to write an essay on growing up with diabetes and how it impacted your life. Do not turn in an essay about diabetes that focuses on personal experiences; do not focus on how diet affects disease progression; do not focus on medical treatments available for diabetes patients. Just don’t do any of those things! Make sure that whatever topic is required—you stick with it as outlined in a given prompt.
2) Sloppy work
Winning scholarship money is something of a numbers game, but that doesn’t mean your application has to be sloppy. It is important to remember that all scholarship judges can see your mistakes if you don’t take care with how you write and format your essay. All it takes is one paragraph where every sentence starts with I for a judge to lose faith in you. In short, make sure all your work is carefully proofread, including spelling and grammar, before sending it off. A little care can go a long way toward getting more scholarship money!
3) Being unoriginal
It’s simple: Don’t be an unoriginal thinker. Colleges are looking for students who are going to make them think, who aren’t afraid to tackle new or challenging subjects and come at old problems with new solutions. Unoriginal students aren’t prepared to do that—and their applications show it. If you want money for college, write about what inspires you, what drives you and why education is important to you and your future plans. Tell a compelling story in your essay and make a strong case for why your unique background makes you a good candidate for that scholarship. And don’t forget to follow through with exceptional recommendations, test scores and extra-curricular activities (ECAs).
4) Lying on your application
Many students think they can get away with minor lies on scholarship applications. They might say that their parents make more money than they actually do, or inflate how many hours they volunteer at a local charity. It’s understandable why you’d want to be honest, but in fact, scholarship committees understand that your family’s financial situation may change year-to-year. Instead of risking disqualification because of a small white lie, applicants should speak up and explain what happened with last year’s income. While applying for college scholarships is fun, remember that people are awarding their own hard-earned money to students who need it most. You don’t want to lose out on your only opportunity because you decided it was okay to bend the truth.
5) Having a bad attitude towards the scholarship
This one is obvious but it’s a big deal. If you have an attitude of they should just give me money because I deserve it, then you are probably not going to get as far as you think in applying for a scholarship. Instead of wanting something for nothing, work hard and earn your way up to where you want to be. You’ll never know if you’re good enough or deserving enough unless you try! Find motivation from other successful people and aim high in your applications. You never know what might happen – that inspiration could spark some real change in your life. Additionally, make sure your application conveys gratitude for having been given an opportunity such as winning a scholarship!
6) Not being motivated to win the scholarship
The scholarship application process can be tedious. It takes a lot of work to apply for a scholarship, and you need to really want that money in order to be motivated enough to sit down and fill out all those applications. If you’re not sure you want a certain scholarship that much, then it’s best not to apply for it. Getting good grades is easier than getting a scholarship: Contrary to popular belief, students who receive scholarships usually get more academic help than students who don’t. The truth is that most scholarships require high grades as part of their application process, so if you just study hard and work hard in school, chances are very good that you’ll win some kind of award at graduation time.
7) Failing to follow up with the committee after you apply
Many scholarship committees ask for an update on your progress (whether you’ve won or not) so that they can reward a candidate’s perseverance. Even if you do win, most scholarships require a follow-up letter explaining how you plan to put their money to good use. If it’s been a while since you applied, send them an email to remind them of who you are and what you’re doing with your life right now. It never hurts to double-check!
8) Forgetting to ask questions when they aren’t answered in the application
Scholarships are all about judging who would be a good investment. If you don’t take time to ask clarifying questions and don’t have a follow-up plan, it can make you look sloppy or unprofessional. Follow up with an email asking specific questions—the more curious you seem, the better!—and give your award organizers time to respond. Doing so shows that you aren’t just using their website as a database; you’re genuinely interested in their organization and they’ll appreciate that attention.