Many students feel discouraged from even looking for appropriate scholarships because they believe the competition is too strong. We believe that every student can find at least one scholarship with some planning and the right attitude. Scholarships are a great way for students to pay for at least some of the many educational expenses and looking for them requires nothing but patience. We’ve created a list of seven useful tips to help students who are just getting started with their search.
Devote the Time
If you manage to get a good scholarship you won’t have to take student loans or work while you’re in college, so time spent in pursuit of scholarships is well invested. Consider this to be your part-time job. Decide to look for new scholarships and to work on your applications at certain hours every week and stick to your schedule no matter what. If you know which search engines you’ll check periodically, you’re less likely to miss some amazing offers.
Keep track of all application deadlines together and check your calendar regularly to make sure you’re up to date. Deadlines are not some abstract recommendations, they are concrete and they must be respected no matter what. It would be the best that you submit everything at least 2-3 days earlier, because you never know what unforeseeable delays might occur. Your application might be lost in the post office or if you’re submitting online there might be a power outage just then. It might be a cliché, but it truly is better to be safe than sorry.
Read All the Requirements
If you carefully read all the requirements for scholarships that interest you, you’ll be able to filter out those that you’re not eligible for and devote your time to others. If they require a GPA of 3.5, don’t apply if yours is 3.4. You’ll just waste your time. If you fulfill all the demands for a scholarship, make sure you’ve collected all documents that prove that. If you need a letter of recommendation from a teacher, allow them to be late, because it’s not unlikely they will be, and ask them sufficiently in advance.
Pursue Smaller Scholarships
Many students only pursue scholarship with the biggest rewards, but those always have the most applicants, so it’s difficult to stand out. Getting a couple of the smaller scholarships can gradually fill your budget; you’ll be able to tick off your expenses one by one, first books, then couple of months rent, then meals and so on. Just make sure you don’t spend those smaller amounts as you get them, spend them only on educational expenses like you planned.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Essay
Scholarships that require essays have up to 40% less applicants, because most students feel reluctant to write. Make sure you’re answering the question you were asked, don’t be too generic and bland when you write an essay. Don’t go over the demanded word count, because that can disqualify you immediately.
It’s best you ask someone you trust to check your application for you once you complete everything. You’ve spent many hours working on it, and it wouldn’t be uncommon that you simply overlook your grammar, spelling and stylistic mistakes, because of tiredness. A fresh pair of eyes can’t hurt and you wouldn’t want to get rejected over some stupid technicality.
Think About your Passions
If you pursue scholarships in more than one category, you’re more likely to win some. Just because you’re focused on getting a lacrosse sports scholarship, for example, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t submit an application if an organization sponsors students who sing in choirs. If something was your hobby during high school, make sure to check are you eligible for some financial aid in that area. Check small local scholarships in your community and ask members of organizations you were affiliated with in high school do they know of any interesting offers. Stay motivated and positive no matter what and the right scholarship will show up.