Getting a scholarship can make a huge difference when paying for college whether it’s undergrad or graduate school. There are many different kinds of scholarships out there to help pay for school. There are academic achievement scholarships based on your grades, test scores, etc. where schools will award you scholarships for being a high-achieving student. You could receive scholarships for community service, athletic achievement, financial need, family employment/military affiliation, and personal background. Here are 20 tips for how to get the best scholarship!
1. Search Early
You want to begin searching early for scholarships if you want to get a leg up on them. Some may have a long time from when they’re available to when they stop taking applications but you never know. They might take the first great application they find and that means you missed your chance. Begin researching potential scholarships way earlier than you might need and you’ll be more prepared.
2. Be Willing To Put In The Work
Scholarships can range from requiring just a small essay to having videos, projects, community service, what have you required for consideration. Similar to the tip above, a lot of people seeking scholarships won’t be too thrilled about having to do all this work for something that might not pan out. If you’re willing to put in the work then it can end up giving you big rewards with a huge scholarship for school.
3. Don’t Leave Out Local Scholarships
While federal scholarships for financial need, for example, are great because they’re easy to prove you qualify and are more likely to pan out, don’t forget about local scholarships. Community scholarships can come from organizations like clubs, small businesses, or even from a neighbor (private benefactor). Depending on your community there could be many years when lots of potential scholarship money is unused because students just don’t apply for it!
4. Build Up Smaller Scholarships
One way to get the “best” scholarship is to accumulate multiple “mini” scholarships that may have smaller rewards but added up give you a good amount of financial coverage. The smart thing about looking for smaller scholarships (in terms of money award) is that they’re usually less sought after. Most others gunning for scholarships all shoot for the best, highest money ones so if you look for lots of smaller ones you might just get more money for school than from one big-money-scholarship.
5. Scholarship Matching Tools
Many websites and services offer “scholarship matching” to help pair you up with scholarships you qualify for. This helps you get a good start on looking for them as you can see which scholarships are viable to you and which are not.
6. No Quotes In Your Essays
Your scholarship essays are supposed to be about you as well as unique. Using quotes may work for other school essays but for this you want it to stand out in a personal way reflecting you so avoid quotes.
7. Avoid “Introducing Yourself” In Your Essays
A fair amount of scholarship essays are read “blind” so that means names and such get disqualified immediately. Just focus on the point of your essay and you’ll do great.
8. Don’t Cut Corners on Essays
Fulfill all the required elements on your scholarship essays. It may not seem like a huge deal to leave out one little aspect or requirement but you need to remember just how many applicants there likely are. Similar to just applying for college in general, you don’t want to give them any reason to disqualify your essay, and thus application based on a technicality like not meeting all requirements.
9. Use Your Available Connections
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Whether it be from school advisors, friends, teachers, coaches, family friends, whoever! You never know who might know (or be offering themselves) a scholarship that’s perfect for you.
10. Scholarships Aren’t ONLY About Grades
Sure, grades can be really important for some scholarships but not for all of them. Many actually don’t even consider your grades! You want to find a way to stand out regardless of your academic achievements in order to grab attention and be awarded those scholarships.
11. Don’t Be Afraid To Utilize Your Personal Interests
Believe it or not, there are some very strange and interesting scholarships out there including the “zombie apocalypse scholarship,” “Duck Tape Prom Dress scholarship,” even an “asparagus club scholarship.” The great thing about these specific and interesting scholarships is it allows you to better utilize your personal interests in the essays and such you submit! If you’re a real lover of zombies and zombie movies then the zombie apocalypse scholarship is a perfect opportunity to let that shine through!
12. Submit Your Essays Earlier Than The Deadline
You might be wanting to give yourself as much time as possible to proofread and edit your essay but that might just come back to bite you. It doesn’t mean you should just submit the first thing you write up without any editing or rewriting but don’t sit on it. The longer you wait the more the chance that someone else will come along and steal that scholarship from under you because you didn’t send in your essay early enough.
13. Avoid Repeating The Essay Prompts
Pretty straightforward just avoid repeating the prompt of your scholarship essays when writing. Obviously, the reader knows what the prompt is so it doesn’t need to be repeated.
14. Get Proper Letters of Recommendation (If Required)
Some scholarships may require letters of recommendation so if that’s the case don’t be caught off-guard. You might have some letters from teachers and such from applying for college but just in case have a backup. Ask them early so they have time to write it out without being rushed.
15. How Are Your Interview Skills?
Some scholarships may require an in-person interview so you should definitely refine (or learn) some great interview skills. Prepare with a friend or family member with background, interests, aspirations-kind of questions. Give yourself plenty of time to practice and get used to interviewing!
16. Optional Questions?
Don’t skip out on optional questions if they come up on your applications. Sometimes just answering those optional questions, no matter what you put, can put you ahead in being selected for that scholarship!
17. The SAT & ACT
As horrendous as it sounds some scholarships may require an SAT score while others require an ACT score. If that’s the case then it might benefit you a lot to take both exams so you have scores ready for both. Besides, it’s nice to take both anyway to see which one you score better at!
18. Get Help From School Advisors
Your school advisors are there to help you succeed in college and for so many people (like yourself) that means getting great scholarships to help pay for it. They can help you when you start out looking for scholarships and where you should be focusing your efforts. They could even look over essays before you send them to give you some tips!
19. Be Careful of Scam Scholarships
There absolutely are scholarship scams out there so make sure you be careful of that when applying. Usually, any that have any “guarantee” or request personal bank information (duh) should be avoided.
20. Careful of Your Internet Identity
The internet is a powerful place and social media in particular. As you should do before applying to colleges in the first place, make sure your online presence is clean and would give no scholarship committee (or future employer) any reason not to choose you. If that means deleting that old twitter or Instagram account when you just “didn’t give a f***” then do it, right now.
Do you have any additional tips on getting the best scholarships for other college students? Share in the comments!
Featured Image Source: Photo by Jasmine Coro on Unsplash
I have a passion for helping others and see journalism as a great way to reach and impact many people. Born in Texas but raised in the San Francisco Bay Area! Then with a short detour in Boulder, Colorado to get my bachelor's in Journalism with a minor in political science. I'm a determined, motivated individual striving to make a difference in this world. I have hopes to play a role in the continued development of journalism and in maximizing efforts to inform and inspire the public. Check out my articles on Society19!