Selection committee members do not know you, your family members, or friends and in most instances, will not meet you before the award decision is made. Your application must sufficiently represent your interests, values, achievements, and future plans. Take every opportunity to make a good impression.
Everything you want people to know about you should be found in the application you submit.
Send/submit your completed application as early as possible and make sure all required documents are included. If by mistake there is missing information, this gives extra time for it to be caught and remedied before the deadline.
It might be appropriate to use the term “Does not Apply” but make sure you think about why the question was asked. Remember, questions asked on applications are used for committee members to learn something about you.
Take time to write down all your accomplishments, interests, and activities. Think outside of what you do in school – include community, church, and family activities. Ask your parents, family members, school advisors, or others that know you well for help. After brainstorming, make sure you include a diverse group of items from your list in your application somewhere, stressing those most important to you.
Read all directions thoroughly and make sure all parts of the application are complete. Don’t forget attachments. If the application requests an official copy of your transcript – make sure you submit an official copy.
Online applications might not spell check for you. Type the information in a Microsoft Word or other word processing document, spell check and then cut and paste into the application.
Scholarships are competitive. Show that you deserve a scholarship and will utilize it to succeed in college. Do this by presenting a professional, thorough, and thoughtful application.
Some applications may require you to handwrite your answers. If so, make sure the form is legible. If you have the option, type the information. Deliver the application neat and clean. Think about how you want it to look to the person opening the envelope for the first time.
Not only should you proofread your work multiple times, a family friend, parent or school official should be asked to read each application and essay you prepare. An English teacher is a valuable resource! Reading your essay and short answers out loud can also help catch mistakes.
Information about unlawful activities may be detrimental to your application.
Tailor the application for the audience. Think about what you are sharing and how it will be perceived. Are some things too personal to be appropriate?
Spelling and Grammar Matter. Don’t shorten or abbreviate words. Also, don’t use “texting” lingo. Capitalize when needed.
Allow committee members to get to know you through a personal and compelling essay. Do not simply restate accomplishments mentioned elsewhere in the application. Write passionately in your essay and share with the committee something about you that will help them develop a connection to you. Even a simple experience can be powerful if you explain its impact on your life. Make sure your essay answers the question asked and it is written specifically for that scholarship application.
Ask people who are able to share about your values, traits or qualities that you consider worthwhile, such as your compassion, drive, leadership, honesty, independence, etc. A well-written letter from a teacher or supervisor at work who knows you very well is more important than a letter from someone with an impressive title. Coach them to provide specific examples in the letter that tell a story about you – how you overcame a specific obstacle, your compassion for fellow students, the difference you have made in the life of another, etc. It is generally not advisable to ask a family member or peer for a letter of reference and may result in disqualification.
If a letter of reference is not dated, the committee may consider it old and the information less valuable. A dated letter shows you have been in recent contact with the letter writer and the information they have shared is current. In some instances, an outdated letter is cause for disqualification.
Make sure it is clear who the letter writer is and in what capacity they know you. Are they your teacher, coach, employer/supervisor, etc.?
If a phone number or email address is provided on the application, take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions. This is especially valuable if you are unsure if you meet the application qualifications.