Every student - and parent - dreams of winning scholarships for college.
We all know, however, that these scholarships don’t just fall into our laps. In order to win scholarships you must search for them; but searching and finding scholarships is only part of the process. If you don’t craft a winning scholarship application, you won’t get that free money.
Every winning application requires steps to get to the point when you submit it. That requires a strong method of organization, a little detective work, and a time commitment. Once you have found the scholarships for which you are a qualified applicant, you should follow these five steps to ensure that you have the best chance of winning.
1. Get great letters of recommendation
Choose the people to write these letters wisely. You want these letters to be from people who know you the best. Asking teachers or school counselors who do not know you will only produce form letters. After you have chosen the best people, help them by providing your resume. Also, provide the writer with the name of the scholarship you are applying for, the due date, and a brief synopsis of the scholarship focus. By doing this, the writers will have a better grasp of what the scholarship judges are looking for and will write a letter that will be specifically tailored to that scholarship.
2. Do your research about the scholarship itself
Many scholarship organizations post earlier winning submissions online. These will tell you what the judges are looking for in the application. Research the organization offering the scholarship and use that information when writing the essay. A scholarship judge will look favorably on an applicant who takes the time to learn about the organization or company offering the money.
3. Write a memorable essay
First things first: Pay attention to the details. Word count, topic, spelling, grammar, and punctuation are important. Mistakes will give the judges a reason to reject your application. Next, make the essay personal and memorable. These scholarship judges read hundreds and often thousands of essays. If yours stands out, makes an impression, and makes them laugh, cry, or feel inspired, your chances of winning are increased.
4. Showcase your awards and honors
Scholarship committees are looking for well-rounded students. Some scholarships require information about school activities, leadership positions, and awards and honors. If it’s allowed, include copies of any awards or honors as an addendum to the application. But, read the scholarship rules and if they specifically note that you should not include these items, don’t.
5. Focus on the presentation
First impressions are key when submitting a winning application. Neatness counts. Read the scholarship instructions and make sure you provide all the required items in the order in which they are requested.
After the application is complete, present it in the most appealing way. Add your name, address, email, and phone number to the top of each page in case they get separated during the judging process. Use high quality paper and a readable font. If the application is mailed, purchase a nice envelope and print return labels along with the mailing address. Scholarship judges say that this first impression often separates the contenders from those who obviously didn’t take the time to adequately prepare and can be eliminated.
Finding money for college requires a commitment of time and perseverance while searching and applying. There are many students applying for scholarships and if you can set yourself apart, you increase your chances of winning.
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