College can be expensive and most students need a little financial help to afford college. Outside scholarships are a wonderful resource to help students pay for college. However, unfortunately, many students become frustrated with scholarships when they do not win. They sometimes start to think scholarships are a waste of time. While there is no way to know exactly what scholarship committees are looking for in the applicants, there are some things you can do to increase your chances of winning a scholarship. Below are 20 ways that can increase your odds of winning a scholarship.
1. Meet the requirements
One way scholarship providers narrow down their applicant pool is by weeding out all of the applicants who do not meet the requirements. Scholarship providers choose their requirements for a reason. If you don’t meet their requirements, they probably won’t consider you.
2. Follow instructions
If someone cannot follow the instructions for the scholarship, it may automatically disqualify their application. Make sure you do everything the scholarship provider requires you to do.
3. Apply local
Scholarships that are open to local students typically have a smaller applicant pool. If a scholarship has a smaller applicant pool, you’ll have less competition. Visit the counseling office at your school to see if they have a list of local scholarship. Check out the websites of other local high school to see if they know of other local scholarships. And, do an online search for local scholarships in your area by typing something like, “scholarships in [your city],” “scholarships in [your county],” or “scholarships in [your state].”
4. Apply smaller
A big mistake many students make is that they focus all of their time and energy on the larger scholarships. The thought process behind this is that if they spend some time applying for this big scholarship and win, it could knock out a big chunk of their tuition bill. The problem with this thought process is that many students have this same idea and there will be a lot of competition. Therefore, apply to the smaller scholarships because they might have less competition.
5. Do some work
There are many scholarships out there that only require you to fill out a short form to be entered. These types of scholarships are usually more like a sweepstake or lottery and anyone can win. Apply to these types of scholarships, but don’t ignore the scholarships that ask for a little more. Scholarships that require an essay usually receive less applicants, and less applicants means less competition.
6. Answer the full prompt
Sometimes we get so focused on answering one part of the essay question that we miss out on the point of what the scholarship provider is asking. Make sure your essay fully answers the question.
7. Meet the word count
Some scholarship committees will be very particular about word counts. If you don’t follow the directions, it could disqualify your application.
Spelling or grammar errors will not win you points. In fact, for some scholarships, errors in the essay can make it easier for the scholarship providers to narrow down the applicant list. Proofread your essay.
9. Stand out
Scholarship providers receive a lot of essays and many of the essays will be similar. If someone else can send in the same essay, they probably will. Many winning scholarship essays are the essays that will stay with the readers long after the scholarship is awarded because it stood out from the crowd.
10. Be Passionate
Find your passion(s) and show that passion as you are applying for scholarships. Scholarship providers do not want to award a scholarship to someone who is just going through the motions to get the scholarship. They want to see someone who is passionate about what they are doing. Don’t fake your passion about something because it is usually easy to spot.
11. Don’t rush
A rushed application can usually been seen right away. Rushed applications and essays typically are not of the highest quality. Take your time with the application and essays to make sure you submit the highest quality application and essay you can.
12. Apply early
Don’t procrastinate and wait until the due date. Something can come up, power can go out, internet might be down. You never know what will happen. Most scholarship providers will not accept applications after the deadline. Therefore, make sure your application is sent in early so you meet the deadline.
13. Get to know the scholarship provider
Reviewing the scholarship provider’s website can help you learn what the company or organization values. Many scholarship providers are looking for individuals who share the same values. Keep this in mind when you are filling out the application and answer the essay questions.
14. Learn about past winners
Some scholarship providers provide information on previous winners. Sometimes they may even share the winning application or essay. While you should always be yourself, seeing the winner’s information can help you get a sense of what the scholarship provider is looking for in their scholarship winner.
15. Apply to multiple scholarships
Apply for as many scholarships as you can. While it does take some time to apply for scholarships, we all have a little extra time. Build scholarship time into your schedule – treat it like a job. Think about it like this – spending one hour to win a $1,000 scholarship is a pretty good use of your time.
16. Reuse and Recycle
Applying for scholarships can be time-consuming. However, there is no rule against reusing or recycling an essay. Keep all school and scholarship essays easily accessible. If there is an essay you already wrote that can answer the question, reuse it! However, make sure you edit the essay to cater to the specific scholarship.
17. Positive online presence
Make sure your online presence presents the person you want the scholarship provider to know. Scholarship providers might search for you on social media or search your name online to make sure you are the same person they met in the scholarship application.
18. Skip possible scams
Don’t waste your time on a scholarship scam. Unfortunately, there are many scholarship scams out there that are preying on students who need scholarship money. If something doesn’t seem right about the scholarship, skip it! Don’t waste your time on it!
19. It’s never too early!
Many students don’t start applying for scholarships until their senior year of high school. However, there are many scholarships open to high school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. There are even some available to elementary and middle school students! It doesn’t hurt to start applying for scholarships early.
20. It’s never too late!
A big misconception many students have is that they cannot win an outside scholarship after they are enrolled in college. However, many of the scholarships are open to current college students. There are also scholarships open to students in graduate school, law school, and medical school! And, there are scholarships open to adults returning back to school. The only thing to keep in mind about outside scholarship is that you should learn about the rules for outside scholarships at your college. An outside scholarship can change your financial aid award from the college.
21. Don’t give up!
It can be discouraging when you find out you did not win a scholarship! However, that should not be a reason to give up. There are thousands of scholarships out there and if you continue to submit quality applications and essays, you just may win a scholarship.
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