Having worked so hard at school, it would be a real shame if your dreams of going to college were ruined by the harsh reality of not being able to afford it.
We all know further education can be very expensive, and the current economic climate is tough for many people right now. But don’t let that stop you from achieving your goals.
Scholarships are a fantastic way to fund yourself through university, and while they are notoriously hard to get, most institutions of higher learning do provide them for students who are struggling financially or come from underprivileged backgrounds.
In addition, scholarships are also given to students who demonstrate excellent academic performance at high school, a particular passion or aptitude for their chosen field of study, or even noteworthy achievements within their local community.
Indeed, over 1.7 million scholarships are awarded every year in the USA, though only 7% of college students will receive one – with the average award being $7400.
While that equates to around 119,000 college students, out of just over 19 million in the USA, as the old saying goes you’ve got to be in it to win it.
So here are some tips of what you can do to increase the chances of your scholarship application being successful.
Get good grades
There are many factors you won’t be able to control about your application process. But one you can is your grades.
Many scholarships focus on academic performance, so be sure you put yourself in the mix by studying hard and achieving as many A grades as you can. Particularly in the subject you want to read.
If you need extra assistance with your studies, consider taking on private tuition from places like Spectrum Tuition.
Most importantly, stay focused on the bigger picture and remember, the better the grades you get, the stronger your college application will be.
Don’t miss the application deadline
This might seem like a no brainer, but it is amazing the number of people who leave their applications until the last minute and then miss a deadline.
Typically, scholarships are valued between $1,000 and $25,000, so they are worth the investment in your time if you are serious about studying at university.
Try to get your application in well before the deadline. If you do, this will give the assessing team more than enough time to follow up with you, should they require further documentation to process your application.
Apply for more than one scholarship
It is surprising how many students believe you can only apply for one scholarship. But most universities actually allow you to apply for several.
It follows then that you should apply for as many scholarships as are relevant to you – as per the eligibility requirements.
While this might take time, it will significantly increase your chances of being awarded some type of scholarship. Again, you’ve got to be in it to win it, and you really have nothing to lose.
At most universities it is even possible to hold two active scholarships congruently. So, this tactic is well worth employing.
Know your story
Knowing your story in an excellent way to set a point of difference amongst your competitors. Generally, most applications for scholarship will ask you to describe any challenges you have faced in your life and what steps you took to overcome them.
Take a bit of time to come up with a unique answer that might make your application more memorable.
Are you a refugee who had to flee a war-torn country? Have you done a considerable amount of charity or volunteer work? Did you set up a successful business whilst at school? Perhaps you have been bestowed with some type of award or recognition of an achievement?
Whatever you decide to mention, relate it proudly, humbly and confidently.
Write and refine your written statement several times
When constructing your written statement, it is important not to waffle. Try to keep it concise and once you have completed the first draft be sure to refine it.
Unless directed otherwise, aim for your statement to be about 1,000 words. Also be clear in what you want to convey and don’t expect the reader to understand anything that is ‘implied’.
The panel has thousands of applications to read, so to capture their attention be sure to get your points across in a very succinct way. Answer the specific question they ask you and don’t go off on tangents. Always use relevant examples where possible.
To support your application, it is a good idea to include a short introductory letter with it as well.
Make it relevant and personal
Whoever is assessing your application will want to learn more about you, above and beyond your grades. They will want to get a firmer indication of who you are, and not just your academic ability.
Try to include as much personal information as you can, but only if it is relevant to the category of sponsorship you are applying for.
If losing a loved one to cancer is your motivation to want to work in medical research, then mention that. Similarly, be sure to say that growing up on a fruit and vegetable farm has shaped your desire to be a food technician.
Don’t just randomly add that you support a particular football team, or that your favourite TV show is Game of Thrones, if it has no direct relevance to you application.
Consider your competition
It’s important to remember that you are not the only person who will be applying for a scholarship. So be clear in your mind what sets you apart.
Have an answer prepared for why you deserve to be given the scholarship ahead of others. Also try to frame your answer into the context of what benefits the university – and wider society might reap – if you were given a scholarship for the course you want to do.
Failure to provide a convincing answer, that will prove to the panel you are worthy of the ‘investment’ of a financial imbursement, is make or break for many students.
Dress like you are a success
Some scholarships require an interview position. So, if you are to meet with a panel in person, be aware of how you present yourself, because first impressions do count.
As a rule, suits and business appropriate attire is the way to go. You wouldn’t wear unwashed, wrinkled t-shirts with offensive slogans to a job interview. So, you shouldn’t do the same for a scholarship application.
Fixate on what the panel is looking for
The panel, and your application forms, will ask a series of questions, which outline certain criteria of what they are looking for in a successful applicant.
Take the time to be clear in your mind what they are asking you and provide specific examples which showcase how you meet the criteria.
If you have them, be sure to provide letters of reference, or other documents like certificates of involvement, with your application.
It is a bit of a cliche but being yourself, or rather the best version of yourself, is very important.
Study hard, get good grades and when you meet with the scholarship panel don’t pretend to be something you are not.
Let your personality shine and answer the questions they ask succinctly and thoughtfully. You’ll be surprised how much you can achieve by putting your best foot forward!
While the process of applying for a scholarship can be daunting and rigorous, it is important to remember why you are doing it.
In American at present, tuition fees are at an all-time high. So, scholarships can be the difference between you going to university or not.
Therefore, if you really want to pursue your chosen career path, it is well worth the investment in your time and effort.