Can you believe it’s already January? If you plan to attend college in Fall 2017, you are probably starting to look for scholarships (if you haven’t applied already.) I have told y'all all about applying for private scholarships in the past, but today I am going to give y’all a little lesson on being the BEST scholarship applicant. How do you do this? Well, I am going to walk you through the steps.
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1. The Best Scholarship Applicants Are Organized
The best scholarship applicants are organized. You need to have your organization game on point if you want to apply for lots of scholarships. College isn’t cheap and most scholarship applications aren’t easy. Being organized allows you to:
- Batch the process of applying for scholarships so you can get more applications turned in with less effort.
- Find out about more scholarships, and still have time to adequately apply for them.
- Spend less time worrying because you have your stuff together.
Getting organized does take some time, but once you are there, it can truly help you out.
Recently I have learned about the ScholarPrep Organizer and I adore this organizer for a number of reasons. The owners of ScholarPrep encourage that students get this organizer during the summer between their 8th and 9th-grade year, but I whole-heartedly believe that this is a good organizer for college freshmen as well. You have a bit of catching up to do, but you can definitely use something like this ScholarPrep Organizer to keep up with all of your information and get ready for scholarship season.
If that seems like a bit too much, I encourage getting an accordion style file folder, like any of these ones from Target. You can label all of these files so you can keep the scholarships you are thinking of applying to in the folder. I encourage printing out the scholarship prompt, or at least saving them all to a similar file on your computer. Then in your accordion file keeping things like recommendation letter contacts, copies of your resume, a master list of your achievements, and copies of your transcript in various files in the folder. Be as organized as possible when you are putting together this folder, and access it whenever you are applying for scholarships.
2. The Best Scholarship Applicants Read The Prompt
I think you could say this of anyone who is planning to apply to something or write an essay of any sort. For the most part, a lot of these scholarships you are applying to will probably include a writing component. You want to make sure that you are giving the scholarship committee all the things they need to make an informed decision about you.
Read the ENTIRE prompt before you start the process because as I have stated, this is where a lot of college students go wrong when it comes to writing.
Read the prompt and highlight or underline the important instructions given in the prompt. Then you need to make sure that when you are writing an essay that these points are CLEARLY introduced and discussed within the writing. The scholarship committee is probably very busy, so they shouldn’t have to search hard for the answers to any prompt. You should practically be giving them the answers to prompt questions on a silver platter.
When I am grading papers, if I have to question whether or not someone answered the question, chances are they didn’t answer the question. It may seem silly to lay it out so plainly, but it’s better that they understand where the prompt answers are than keep them guessing. You are not flirting with the scholarship committee, you want them to marry you.
3. The Best Scholarship Applicants Have Their Work Edited
If you are serious about wanting a scholarship, you need to be serious about editing your work. If you don’t want to pay for an editor, I encourage Grammarly (especially shelling out the cash for Grammarly Premium because it catches more errors.) I recently started using Grammarly for my own work as a student, and I have nothing but positive things to say about Grammarly, because I have had nothing but positive results using Grammarly. I wholeheartedly believe that Grammarly has made my writing a million times better, and I think that all students should have Grammarly installed on their computers.
If Grammarly isn’t your thing, get someone to edit your work. There is a good chance your school has a writing center that would be more than happy to edit your work, or you can even ask a friend who is great at editing and writing to see if they would look your application over for errors.
One thing you need to do is not hit send right away. Give yourself a break from writing. This comes down to the first point I made, organization, because if you wait until the last minute to submit your application you may not have time to sleep on it. Our brains get used to the words that we write, so we may skip over the same typos a million times. Give your brain some time to rest so you can get better at catching those pesky typos.
4. The Best Scholarship Applicants Are Passionate
Before you turn in your application, you need to make sure that your application is passionate. The best applications give the scholarship committee a reason to pick you. If you are nonchalant about your dreams, your wishes, and why you even want the money why would they give it to you? Make sure that you share your why with the scholarship committee. Make sure they understand who you are, how you intend to use the money to better your college career, and how you intend to use your college career to make an impact that is bigger than just a bigger paycheck.
Passion makes you a believable candidate and it also just makes the application a lot easier to read. You don’t want to bore the committee, you want to share your life with them in the essay and get across your why. Tell a story, don’t just write a simple statement. Go further than the boring bullet points and make them fall in love with you.
5. The Best Scholarship Applicants Turn Their Work In On Time
You need to make sure that you are organized enough to turn your work in on time, always. When people are putting their money on the line for you, they want someone who values their time. When you are dealing with smaller scholarships it can seem easy to just ask for an extension, but your goal is to get your applications done as efficiently as possible so you don’t have to ask for extensions.
Like I stated early, this comes down to organization. Even if you have to add the deadline for the scholarships you want to apply for in your calendar a few days early, do what you need to do to make sure your applications are turned in on time.
If an extension is absolutely necessary, make sure you are very clear about the reason behind the extension and that you aren’t requesting a crazy amount of time for the extension. If you need 24 hours to finish editing your essay, that’s one thing; but if you need a week to write your entire application and essay, that’s another ball game. You need to be on top of things so that you don’t need an extension, but if you do need one it needs to be reasonable and valid. The committee wants to start reading the applications as soon as possible so they can convene and make decisions, don’t hold them back too long waiting on your application.
6. The Best Scholarship Applicants Are Gracious and Thankful
When I was attending UCA, I got a few scholarship opportunities from their private scholarship selection. Each time I got a scholarship, I also had to write a thank you note to my donor.
Even if you aren’t like me, write a thank you note, those things go along way. One of my favorite places to get thank you cards is a place called Minted.
- Get a cute thank you card custom made by Minted.
- Write a personal thank you to the committee of scholarships you are chosen for.
You never know how much a Thank You or a “Thanks for reviewing my application, I will take your feedback into consideration, and apply again next year,” will do for your chances of receiving more money in the future from the same scholarship committee (or same scholarship.)
There is a need to be passionate in this correspondence as well, so don’t just copy and paste the basic ideas that I have stated above, making the thank you notes your own.
You want to make sure you share your grace and thanks for these people. They can be of great help when it comes to providing you with future scholarships. A great impression can lead to a kind thought the next time they read your application for a scholarship. Or, it can lead to a kind thought the next time they see a scholarship you may qualify for.
Scholarships are extremely important when it comes to paying for college. Most of the time, pell grants and federal aid won’t cut the mustard when it comes to paying for college. Paying for all the expenses that come along with living in a college town can be rough. By using these six tips for being the best scholarship applicant you can up your chances of getting a scholarship. Go dazzle the scholarship committee!