Applying to college can be a challenging process, but scholarship applications can be even more challenging! For many students, affording college can be difficult and securing scholarships is a must.
We’ve compiled 14 tips that will help you successfully complete scholarship applications, write great scholarship essays and rock your scholarship interviews!
Conquering the Application
Tip 1: Start Your Research Early
A good rule of thumb is to start researching scholarships at about the same time you begin applying to schools.
Research the background, history and goals of both the scholarship and the organization sponsoring it. Find out who is funding the scholarship and why they are funding it. This research will help you weed out any potential “scam scholarships” — and yes, those really do exist!
Tip 2: Read Eligibility Requirements Carefully
Remember to read the fine print!
There’s no point in completing scholarship applications for ones that you’re not eligible to receive. If you have a question about whether you qualify for a certain scholarship, contact the scholarship sponsor.
Tip 3: Pay Attention to the Details
Put your best foot forward on all scholarship applications.
Ask yourself questions like: When is it due? How long should the essay be? How many letters of recommendation do they want? The details matter, folks!
Tip 4: Be Intentional About Your Letters of Recommendation
The best letters of recommendation come from the teachers whose classes challenged you. Teachers who watched you persist and persevere are likely to write the best recommendations.
Tip 5: Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Ask your guidance counselor, a teacher or a family member to help you review your work before you submit it. It’s always helpful to have another set of eyes look over your application.
Start by asking a friend what they think one of your strengths are. A little awkward, but trust us — it’s worth it!
Tackling the Essay
Tip 6: Focus on What Makes You Unique
Use your uniqueness to your advantage! Your scholarship essay should reflect what makes you stand out.
Don’t be afraid to be edgy or vulnerable when you write. Your writing should be professional and grammatically correct, but don’t put on a facade as you sit down to type your essay. Be intentionally candid. Keep in mind who will be reading your work and why you are writing this essay, but at the same time, don’t shy away from showing your true colors.
Tip 7: Tell Your Story, but Stick to the Prompt
Remember to tell your story in the context of the application. For example, if the scholarship is for “leaders,” highlight experiences in which you’ve shown leadership qualities. Tell a story about a time you may have been asked to lead a group project, or perhaps a time you were inspired to start some kind of movement or club at your school.
It’s essential that you don’t deviate too much from the prompt. Continually ask yourself: Does this detail of the story correlate to the prompt?
Tip 8: Do Several Revisions
Read your essay out loud several times to different people — including older family members, parents or teachers — and get their feedback.
Also, let the essay sit for 48 hours before you come back to it and revise it. Remember in your earlier years of high school when your teachers made you print your essays out, mark them up in your favorite shade of red and then submit a new draft? Do that! Too often, applicants lose the respect of those reading their essays due to grammatical errors and typos.
Don’t be that applicant! Proofread, proofread and proofread again.
Tip 9: Be Authentic
Remember that you are likely not the only person applying for this scholarship. Many, many students who apply for scholarships tend to put on their “best face” possible and unintentionally come across as fake.
Tell your story, not someone else’s story.
Acing the Interview
Tip 10: Go in with a Game Plan
Make sure you go into the interview with a plan of action. Often it can help to have a friend or family member run a “mock interview” with you. This will be especially helpful if it’s the first time you have ever been formally interviewed.
Tip 11: Be Prepared to Talk about Yourself
This may seem straightforward, but it is important to keep in mind that this interview is about you!
Be prepared to answer questions about not only your academic achievements but your extracurricular activities as well. You will be asked about your strengths and weaknesses. This is often the hardest question for students to answer.
Tip 12: Ask Good Questions
Don’t let your interviewer make you do all the talking! When the time is appropriate, ask them a couple of questions. Questions like: “What exactly are you looking for in the recipient of this scholarship?” or “What has inspired you most about the previous recipients of this scholarship?” are a couple of good ones to get you started!
Asking questions shows your interviewer that you are engaged and actively participating in the conversation.
Tip 13: Dress to Impress
It is essential to dress nicely for your interview. If you want to be taken seriously, the way you dress needs to reflect this.
Tip 14: Stay Calm
Take a deep breath!
Remember: If they’ve called you for an interview, you are one of their top candidates. It is important that you walk into the interview with confidence and a smile on your face.
Remember: You deserve this scholarship! Now walk in, be confident and rock that interview!
Here at Marymount University, we’re here to help!
Here at Marymount University, we know that many college-bound students need help financing a college education and need guidance when applying to college. That’s why we want to help you figure out how to do just that!
Feel free to request more information today!