12 Tips to Increase Your Chances of Winning a Scholarship

Most students want to win scholarships. Who wouldn’t? Scholarships can help you obtain a college education without going into debt. However, every year students become frustrated when they do not win a scholarship they were sure they would have won. Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee you will win a scholarship. Luckily, there are ways to increase your chances. Below is a checklist of 12 things to do before sending in your scholarship application and essay to increase your chance of winning a scholarship.

  1. Meet the requirements. Read the eligibility requirements carefully and make sure you meet all of their requirements. If you do not meet the requirements, you will probably be automatically disqualified when the scholarship committee reviews your application.
  2. Follow instructions. Read the instructions carefully and do everything that is required of you. If you miss just one step, you could be disqualified.
  3. Choose the right recommendation writer. Some scholarships require a recommendation. Don’t leave the recommendation until the last minute. Instead, choose your recommendation writer carefully and give them ample time to craft an impressive recommendation. Choose someone who really knows you and can speak about all of the great things you have to offer.
  4. Answer the full prompt. Some scholarship essays questions are multilayered. However, some students may focus on one part of the question and breeze by, or even miss, the second part of the question. The entire question is important to the scholarship provider, so ensure you answer the full question.
  5. Meet the word count. Some scholarships give a word count requirement for the scholarship essay. Meet the requirements. If they want at least a certain amount of words, make sure you have at least that many. If they don’t want you to go over a certain amount of words, eliminate unnecessary words.
  6. Proofread. Read your application and essay a few times to ensure everything sounds right. Edit the essay if necessary to make sure you will be submitting an application you are proud to put your name on. In addition, pay close attention to the following things:
    • Spelling. You may have sent in a very impressive application. However, if there are misspellings, your credibility may go down very quickly.
    • Grammar. Grammar can make a big difference in an essay. Incorrect grammar can sometimes make it hard for the reader to understand what you are trying to share.
  7. Stand out. When applying for anything, including scholarships, you have to assume all applicants will have the same or better qualifications as you. However, the essay is what can make you stand out from the crowd and help the scholarship committee choose you. Read your essay and ask yourself, “Could someone send in a similar essay?” If the answer is yes, you may need to rewrite the essay to ensure your essay will be more unique. Focus on what makes you unique from others who may be applying for the scholarship.
  8. Know your reader. Get to know the scholarship provider and what is important to them. You may want to use this information as you are writing your application essay. If the scholarship provider publishes information about past winners, study the winners. The winners had something that impressed the committee and knowing what will impress them can help you gear your application towards what the scholarship provider wants to see in a scholarship winner.
  9. Be yourself. While you will want to stand out and somehow integrate things that are important to the scholarship provider in your application and essay, you have to continue being yourself. When you try too hard to be something you are not, it becomes obvious. Scholarship providers want to have authentic individuals win their scholarships.
  10. Apply early and meet the deadline. Always meet the application deadline. Just one minute late may mean your application will not be considered. In addition, don’t procrastinate and wait to apply until the last minute. Some scholarships will close early when they received a certain amount of applications.
  11. Submit all required items. Ensure everything that the scholarship provider asks for is submitted by the deadline. If you have to rely on others to submit a piece of your application, such as a recommendation, make sure they know the deadline. Follow up with the person prior to the deadline to ensure they submit the required information.
  12. Maintain a professional online appearance. More and more decision makers are doing a little research before making decisions. This is happening for college admission, jobs, and scholarships. The scholarship provider may want to ensure you really are the person you are presenting in your application. In addition, they may want to ensure you are someone they will be proud to endorse.

There is no way to guarantee you will win a scholarship. However, you can increase your chances my doing everything above before submitting your scholarship application.

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8 Comments on “12 Tips to Increase Your Chances of Winning a Scholarship

  1. Great tips! For #6 – I would also add having someone else (teacher, friend, etc.) review essays and applications. It’s so much easier for someone else to catch what might be missing, awkward, incorrect, or incomplete after spending so much working on an essay/application.

    • Hi Peggy! Great suggestion! You are absolutely right. Sometimes we may be too close to our work that we might miss something that others will not. If you can find something who can be the person you can turn to do a quick proofread, definitely reach out to them.

  2. Pingback: 12 Tips to Increase Your Chances of Winning a Scholarship | Hispanic EdD Weblog

  3. Fantastic scholarship tips, Jessica! Thank you for all you do for scholarship searching students and their parents. 🙂

  4. Thanks for shearing your important tips. Please tell me what is the best way to apply a scholarship program.

    • Each scholarship provider has their own requirements for applying to their scholarship. If you find a scholarship you are interested in applying, read the rules the scholarship provider has for students to apply and follow the directions closely. Most scholarships will ask students to apply online by either filling out an online form or submitting information to the scholarship provider’s email address. Good luck!

  5. I liked your recommendation to apply for scholarships well before the deadline. My son is starting to apply for scholarships, but he’s been planning to start them closer to their deadlines so he can just focus on school for now. I’ll be sure to mention your advice to him to see if it helps him to start applying earlier.

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