Ten Tips for Scoring Scholarships 5

Berry CollegeApplying for scholarships can be a difficult, time-consuming, and tedious process.  In addition, scholarship applicants often face stiff competition.  However, by applying certain methods to your application process, you can greatly increase your chance of score a scholarship.

#1 Only Apply if You are Qualified

This is very important. List the areas about which you are knowledgeable and look for scholarships on those topics. If you apply for every scholarship you stumble upon, you will waste a lot of valuable time turning out weak, off-target scholarship applications. If, instead, you choose which scholarships fit your skills and spend your time perfecting those applications, you will produce strong, relevant scholarships. Focus on your strengths.

#2 Don’t Wait for the Perfect Scholarship

While you should avoid applying for the wrong scholarships, you must also avoid waiting for the “perfect” scholarship. There are very few, if any, scholarships that fit you and your abilities perfectly. Instead, look for scholarships that fit you in the most important ways.  Stop waiting and start applying!

#3 Avoid Scams

Beware of “scholarships” that require “application fees” or “advance loan payments” because they are most likely scams.  In addition, if you have to pay money to make scholarship money, it’s probably a scam.  Over $100 million is lost annually to scholarship scams. Don’t let your hard earned money go to scams!  For more information on avoiding scholarship scams read the 23 Warning Signs of Scholarship Scams.

#4 Finish Early

Once you determine which scholarships to apply for, begin completing your application immediately.  Set yourself a deadline about two weeks before the official deadline. This precaution will guarantee that your application will get there in time. In addition, by applying early, you will be able to create a better application because you will not be rushing at the last moment.

#5 Follow Instructions Carefully

All scholarships do not have the same requirements. Some require SAT scores; others have different requirements. If you don’t follow the instructions exactly, your application will most likely be rejected in a preliminary check. No matter how well you answer the other questions, if you try to submit an ACT score instead of an SAT score, your application will most likely be rejected in a preliminary check.  Remember to dot your i’s and cross your t’s.

#6 Proofread Your Application

Before you finish your scholarship application, proofread it to verify that you did not make any mistakes. Check for grammar and spelling errors. Read your writing out loud and have someone else read it to you. Find someone who knows proper grammar, and ask them to check it for you (But don’t let someone else write it for you!). Finally, check your application again the day after you wrote it. By checking the next day, you will gain a fresh perspective and notice things that you might have missed the day before.

#7  Neatness Counts

A neat, clean application is more appealing than an illegible, food-encrusted submission. If an application is unreadable, the scholarship sponsor might not even try to read it. Besides, even if he does read it, the dirty, sloppy appearance will certainly influence his decision. Write your application in drafts so you can make all the changes you want on the rough draft while still maintaining a clean, fresh final draft.

#8 Proofread Your Application

I repeated this point on purpose. Proofreading is the most important part of the application process. Before you mail your application, proofread it again. This can be a shorter check than the first proofreading but still be thorough. During this proofreading, just check for obvious mistakes. Look for empty blanks and missing pages. This is a basic “sanity” check.

#9 Send by Certified Mail

When you mail your application, send it by certified mail. After all the hard work that you have put into your application, it would be very disappointing to have your submission lost in the mail system. That said, it is very unlikely that your application would get lost in the mail. Think about it, when was the last time that a letter you sent did not reach its destination?  Personally, however, I would still be willing to pay slightly extra for the peace of mind.

#10 Repeat

Once you complete your first scholarship application, begin the next. Don’t be surprised if you do not win your first scholarship. Rather, be surprised if you do win your first scholarship. Remember, the key to winning a scholarship is determination. If you refuse to give up, you exponentially increase your chance of winning a scholarship eventually.

As you follow these steps, remember to work hard on each individual scholarship. You will win more money by submitting a few excellent applications than by submitting a plethora of mediocre applications.  And, most of all, “Never, never, never, never give up“. (Winston Churchill)

What scholarship tips would you recommend?

5 thoughts on “Ten Tips for Scoring Scholarships

  1. Reply Opinionated Ant Apr 25,2009 10:33 AM

    Thank you for all the resources.

    It was perfect timing that I found you through Problogger, since I’m starting the application process for the first time ever. Already your site has really helped keep the panic at bay!

  2. Reply Nate Desmond Apr 25,2009 10:36 AM

    @ Opinionated Ant

    Thanks for the compliments. Glad to be able to help!

  3. Reply Jenii Statt Jan 19,2012 3:07 PM

    This is a great article, but what do you do when you’ve applied to dozens of scholarships, and haven’t won any? The only scholarship I’ve won is one from the college I’m hoping to attend – $14,000 a year based on my SAT scores only. I don’t have much community volunteer service, which seems to be what a lot of the scholarships are looking for. Any tips? Thanks!!

  4. Reply xhenis Jan 22,2012 5:44 AM

    hello. i’m an albanian and i don’t have any idea how to apply for scholarships. are there any scholarships for foreigners like me and if there are, how can i apply?

  5. Reply Jenii Statt Jan 23,2012 10:45 AM

    Hi Xhenis! I would recommend searching several scholarship websites – fastweb.com; supercollege.com; smscholarships.com; cappex.com; and moolahspot.com. I hope this helps!!! I know there are some scholarships for foreigners, even if you cannot apply for them all. I use all those scholarship sites, plus some more. 🙂

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