Winning a scholarship is the most convenient way to finance your college studies. Unlike loans, scholarships are gifts that never have to repaid. Here at Scholarful we know how challenging the scholarship process must be for you. That’s why we compiled our best tips for not just applying for scholarships, but winning them.
Tuition fees are at an all-time high and demand for scholarships is increasing each and every year. Roughly three out of four graduates are walking away with over $30,000 of debt that (on average) takes 22 years to repay. In order to prevent you or your child from taking on debt, it is best to apply for as many scholarships as possible.
- Craft Your Story
Before you try to convince a scholarship committee that you deserve a scholarship, you have to convince yourself first. Identify your strengths and weaknesses: be realistic, but optimistic. Reap your academic achievements, extra-curricular activities, and think about your long-term goals. In order to stand out from the crowd, have a clear answer for the following: If you were to be awarded a scholarship, what doors would that open for you? And how would you take advantage of those opportunities to make the world a better place? Make sure this shines through in your written essays. Scholarship committees are more likely to invest in a powerful story than a strong GPA and shiny extra-curriculars.
- Do your Research
Do your research! We know it’s time-consuming and exhausting, but believe us, it’s worth it! Find out what type of scholarships are suitable for your interests and background. Look for different options online: Scholarful, Scholarships.com, BigFuture. Remember that there are plenty of scholarships based on gender, academic achievements, special skills and talents, ethnicity and etc. There are college scholarships fitted for very specific talents and interests and you might be suited for those opportunities. If you know what your skills and advantages are, you can use them to tailor the scholarships you apply for, and ultimately better your chances!
- More the merrier
Let’s be real. Scholarships are a numbers’ game. You’re not going to win them all, but through repeated, consistent effort, you will win a good percentage of the ones you apply for. If you are eligible for a scholarship, apply without additional questions or doubts. Some of the scholarships are not as great or prestigious, but applying for them will increase your chances of winning more money and decreasing the out-of-pocket cost of your/your child’s degree. Always remember that you can cover tuition fees and living expenses not only with one, but multiple, scholarships. Never think that the amount of financial aid is too little; they can still cover your learning materials, rent, and additional costs.
- Get your ducks in a row
By ducks, we mean supporting documentation. Any document that supports your academic achievement, participation in extracurricular activities, volunteer work, or other activities must be collected in advance (think: resume, transcript, etc.) This way, you will be prepared for any scholarship application. All these documents prove that you are a worthy candidate and they can have a huge influence on the scholarship committee.
- Get Support
Remember you do not have to go through with the process alone. When you need support, ask for it. Many colleges offer consultations about scholarship opportunities, ask for information at the school, in your community. This way you can get valuable information and assistance.
Also, do not hesitate to ask for moral encouragement. Applying for college scholarships is a stressful process and the people around you can provide support. There are also various student clubs online that offer help and encouragement during the scholarship application process. They can share information about scholarship opportunities as well as provide friendly comfort. Through GradGab you will be able to connect with current college students, ask for advice and get insights.
- Create Scholarship Checklist
Organizing information is crucial to the overall success of any student. To stay organized, we recommend you create a scholarship checklist. Monitor which scholarship needs which document and make sure you are not missing anything. As this is a common struggle among students and parents alike, we have a solution for you! At Scholarful you can 1-click apply to scholarships, manage letters of recommendation and supplemental essays, and track your application status all through your Student Dashboard. With Scholarful you will never have to fill in the same information more than once!
- Create a Scholarship Calendar
Tracking all the different scholarships can be challenging and in order to solve that, you can create a Scholarship Calendar. You can mark every scholarship deadline, as well as the dates of the winner announcement. This trick will not let you skip any deadline and will make sure you stay updated on your application status. With Scholarful you can even track your success in your customized scholarship dashboard.
- Check your online presence
We live in the digital age when even your social media profile photo can say a lot about you. Before applying, make sure your social media profiles match the values and views you have expressed in your essays. Many college scholarships ask for social media links and many committee members take into account the overall information they get from your social media profile. You can use your social media accounts to make a good impression and use them to your advantage.
- Write Inspirational Scholarship Essay
This is one of the most challenging parts of the scholarship process. In your essays, you do not want to state the obvious, but you want to show the committee your goals, passion, aspirations. This is where you will get to showcase the narrative you crafted for yourself in Step 1. For more detailed information, check out our article about how to write a scholarship essay.
- Prepare for the Interview
Practice is the key to your success. Research commonly asked questions during scholarship interviews and think about your answers. You can write them down and then practice them in front of a mirror. The best option is to ask a friend or a family member to interview you and give you feedback. Also, you can record yourself, then watch and judge if you expressed your thoughts eloquently. Make sure that you are dressed properly (even if the interview is held online, it is important to look professional!)
- Keep Going!
Last but not least, whenever you feel exhausted, just remember to keep going. The stress of the scholarship process can make you want to stop, but remember it’s just anxiety talking! Winning a scholarship is worth every challenge you face on the way. Make sure to remind yourself that all this work is for a better future and an amazing experience! It may seem tough right now, but your future self will thank you for setting yourself up for financial success.
If you need moral support, we are here to encourage and assist you!