For many college students, summer time is a time to recharge, relax, perhaps conduct research, and obviously, work a summer job. Jobs at pools, camps, grocery stores, and restaurants give us the opportunity to work more hours and save up for the fall semester. Another way to offset the cost of college and start paying down loans is by applying for scholarships.
Scholarships and grants are a way to earn money in the time it takes to put together the application. If you have the patience needed to sift through lists of scholarships, find the ones you qualify for, and turn in an application, you will be rewarded. When applying for scholarships, it is important to make sure you stand out from the crowd. Keep reading for some tips on making an impression with your scholarship applications.
- Brag. You must brag. Application reviewers do not know you and have no way of knowing your accomplishments unless you explicitly tell them in great detail.
- Keep your essays focused. Do not highlight your acts of community service if the scholarship is focused on being left handed. Think about what the reviewers want to see and cater to that.
- Write in a way that lets reviewers know you. Tell them why you volunteered with Meals on Wheels. Tell them what you learned when you went on an alternative spring break with the VISION Center. Tell them what you felt when you worked at the warming center in Ypsilanti.
- Be as specific as possible. It is best to give the names of the people and places you’re connected with. A vague application and essay is easy to forget and skim over. When you offer specific details about your experiences, the reviewers are able to see who you are as a person.
- Stick to the rules. If the application says a 500 word limit, do not write 501. If it says one page, write a single page. The reviewer will recognize that you have respected their time and will view you more favorably.
There are also some general best practices when it comes to scholarship applications.
- Apply for scholarships even if you only partially qualify; you never know who else is applying for that scholarship. The other applicants might be even less qualified that you! If you have some of the qualifications, send in an application. You can always use the essay to explain why you might have fallen short on something like GPA or test scores.
- Use Times New Roman in 12 pt. font for anything you have to type and black or blue ink for anything that is written. You want to make sure the reviewers are able to easily read and understand your application.
- Ask for letters of recommendation at least two weeks in advance. Many applications will ask that students submit one or two letters from professors recommending the student for the scholarship. Be as professional as possible with this. Start with an email or an in person meeting asking if they would be willing to help. If they agree, give them everything they need to write you a standout letter. Professors should be given a resume and a description of the scholarship’s focus so they can target their remarks. Professors are extremely busy so make sure to respect their time and effort. Letters of recommendation should be submitted with your application in a sealed envelope with the professor’s signature across the seal.
- This might be obvious, but submit your applications on time to the correct office. Some scholarships will even have a time that applications must be submitted by. It is important to plan ahead to ensure that your applications are accepted — if they aren’t, you’ve just wasted your time and perhaps even a favor from a professor.