A scholarship is something that can be very helpful when it comes to paying for college. Unfortunately, many students make mistakes as they are applying for scholarships. Some mistakes limit opportunities, while other mistakes can disqualify a student from consideration for a scholarship. As you are searching for and applying for scholarships, make sure to not make these 15 mistakes.
1. Thinking you’re too young.
Many students don’t start looking for scholarships until college is on their mind during their senior year of high school. While it is true most scholarships are only open to graduating high school seniors and current college students, there are scholarships open to younger students. There are scholarships open to elementary and middle school students, as well as high school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors.
2. Thinking you’re too old.
There is a big misconception that scholarships are not open too older students. However, many scholarships are open to students of all ages, including non-traditional students.
3. Stopping the scholarship search after starting college.
Many colleges increase their tuition and fees, but financial aid may not change. Just because you are already enrolled in college doesn’t mean you should stop applying for scholarships. Continue applying for scholarships so you can offset the cost to attend college.
4. Not submitting the FAFSA.
There is a common misconception among middle class families that they do not qualify for FAFSA. First, if you are a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, you qualify for the FAFSA. The FAFSA determines if you are eligible for federal grants. It is also necessary if you want to consider using federal student loans. The FAFSA is used by your state government to determine eligibility for state grants. And, the FAFSA is used by the colleges to determine the amount of financial aid the college will offer you.
5. Applying to scholarships you don’t meet the qualifications.
All legitimate scholarships will have some sort of eligibility requirements. If you do not meet the eligibility requirements, don’t waste your time applying for the scholarship. If you do not meet the requirements, the scholarship committee will most likely disqualify your application right away.
6. Skimming the instructions.
Pay close attention to the directions to ensure you meet all of the application requirements. Make sure to submit all required documents. In addition, pay close attention to the essay question to ensure you don’t answer only part of the question. If anything is missing from your application, you may be automatically disqualified.
7. Ignoring smaller scholarships.
You may be tempted to focus your attention on the scholarships with the large scholarship amounts. You may be thinking that if you win this one large scholarship, you won’t have to worry about applying to other scholarship. However, many other students will also have the same thought as you and the scholarship will have a lot of competition. Smaller scholarships will typically have less competition than the larger scholarship. Smaller competition means you will have a higher likelihood of winning the scholarship.
8. Only applying to national scholarships.
National scholarships means they are open to students throughout the country. There are many great national scholarships out there, but don’t ignore your local scholarships. Local scholarships will have less competition. In addition, you may start a relationship with the scholarship provider that could include more scholarship money, a mentorship, or a future job.
9. Rushing through the application and essay.
When you rush, you are more likely to make mistakes. Any little thing can ruin your chances at winning a scholarship. Make sure you are sending in the best application and essay possible.
10. Thinking quantity is more important than quality.
Applying for multiple scholarships is important. However, if you are focusing on the quantity of scholarship applications instead of the quality of your application, you probably won’t win. Again, take your time with your scholarship applications and make sure you are sending in a quality scholarship application and essay.
11. Not standing out.
If your story is similar to other students, you won’t stand out from the crowd. Scholarship winners are typically the students who have a story that will stay with the scholarship committee long after they scholarship is awarded. Therefore, before sending in your scholarship essay, ask yourself if someone else could send in the same story. If they could, they probably will. Ask yourself how you can make your story unique.
12. Ignoring your social media.
Scholarship competition can be tough. When the scholarship provider only has one scholarship award, how is the scholarship committee to choose when there are many qualified applicants? Scholarship providers, admission professionals, and hiring managers sometimes choose to look at an applicant’s social media presence. Is your public appearance one the scholarship provider would be proud to be associated with? If not, you will want to consider cleaning up your social media.
13. Waiting until the last minute.
Things happen and waiting until the last minute could mean you miss the deadline. In addition, other things can come into play when thinking about deadlines, such as time zones and specific time requirements. Lastly, what happens if the power goes out and you have no access to the internet to submit your application electronically? Give yourself some leeway when applying for scholarships to ensure you meet the deadline.
14. Falling for scams.
Unfortunately, there are scams in all industries, including scholarships. Some scholarship scams don’t have a scholarship to award. They only have the scholarship page on their website to get traffic to their website. Other scholarship scams can include getting personal information from you so they can steal your identity. Review the scholarship provider websites to judge their legitimacy and always go with your gut feeling – if it doesn’t feel right, skip the scholarship and move on to another scholarship.
15. Giving up.
I don’t think there has ever been a student who won every scholarship they applied for. Unfortunately you are not going to win every scholarship. However, you also cannot win a scholarship if you do not apply. Stays focused and continue applying. As you continue applying for scholarships, it will get easier.
Make sure you don’t make any of these mistakes when applying for financial aid and scholarships!