It’s no secret that being a student is tough. Balancing school, extracurricular activities, a social life, internships, and other responsibilities can be really taxing, especially on your wallet. Although loans can help, they must be paid back. Scholarships on the other hand, are grants that don’t have to be repaid, making them especially valuable. It goes without saying that because scholarships are so beneficial, they are also immensely competitive.

Want to know how to master your application? See these tips below:


1. Highlight your background and interests


Scholarship essays are sometimes stale because applicants give cookie-cutter answers to the assigned topics, thinking that is what the scholarship committee wants. In reality, you want to make yourself stand out by highlighting your passions and letting your personal voice shine through. What separates you from the other applicants? What’s something you can offer that nobody else can? Answering questions like this will make your essay engaging and memorable to the committee.

Do your research and find opportunities that are related to your background and interests. If you’re passionate about what you’re applying for then you’ll have an easier time completing the application and your enthusiasm will show in your work. 

2. Provide lots of details

Avoid vague statements that don’t really say much and be as specific as you can with your examples. For instance, if you’re going to talk about a school project, give whatever specifics you can about the project. What was it for? What were the challenges? Who did you work with? Providing these details helps your reader connect and makes it feel real to them as they read it.

Increasingly, video components are becoming popular. Often applicants will submit a short video of themselves answering certain prompts. If you’re doing a video interview remember these key points:

  • Pay careful attention to what is in the frame. You’ll want to make sure you have good lighting and a simple, pleasant background free from clutter. 
  • Ensure you look nicely dressed and presentable.
  • Be yourself. Don’t worry about whether or not your video will look prestigious, make it authentic to you and your unique experiences.

Your video should be treated as an interview, with an added benefit being that you are able to do multiple takes.

3. Get feedback

Once you’ve completed your application materials (essay, cover letter, video, etc.) ask someone you trust to look it over and give you their feedback. Having fresh eyes on your work will help you figure out which of your points are clear and which need improvement.

4. Letters of Recommendation

Some scholarships require a letter of recommendation. You’ll want it to be from someone that knows you well, and who can be impartial. Ideally it would be a former boss, professor, or teammate. The letter should focus on your work, grades, community service, talents, and so on. Remember to write a hand written thank you to whomever writes you the letter.

5. Review your materials and submit them early

Don’t wait until the deadline to turn in your application. Gather all your materials ahead of time and review them before you submit them. This will leave you plenty of time to make any needed adjustments and avoid added stress at the end of the process.

No matter what your experience is, it’s always worth applying for a scholarship that you want. Many students avoid applying altogether because they do not think they will be the “most qualified.” Scholarships are often awarded to students who’ve faced an uphill battle, not students who’ve been handed a silver spoon. Let your passion, enthusiasm and personality shine! Finally, as with job applications, it’s best to apply for many scholarships that you qualify for to increase your chances of landing one.

Don’t have a specific scholarship in mind yet? Try jotting down key things about you that you could talk about. When application time comes, it can be useful handy to help you get started. 

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