12 Most Unique College Scholarship Winning Tips
Scholarship money, aaahhh… those coveted checks that are awarded to ease the pain of college tuition, not to mention books, housing, food, and all the other expenses that come with university living. There are beyond thousands of scholarships available to students of all levels from middle school to currently enrolled college students. With so many scholarships available, why is it that most students assume they will never win one? Or worse, what about the student who has applied for oodles of scholarships and still hasn’t won any?
Believe it or not, it’s not IF you apply, but HOW you apply that may make or break your chances of winning a college scholarship. The high school valedictorian with a 4.2 G.P.A. might seem impressive, but if his scholarship application is even a day late, he will NOT win. How about the student that worked in the soup kitchen, ONCE. Is that truly helping others? Creating a scholarship application that SHINES in every way is the key to winning scholarship money. How is a student to do that? The following 12 Most unique college scholarship winning tips will get you started:
1. The early bird gets the… scholarship?
Most students will apply for college scholarships in the spring of their senior year of high school. They have already been accepted at a college and are being pressured by their parents to find a way to help pay that huge tuition bill that looms in the distance. The scholarships with fall and early winter deadlines have LESS competition simply because FEWER students apply for them. Apply EARLY and OFTEN, letting no scholarship deadline pass you by!
2. Impress right out of the envelope!
Have you ever opened an envelope sealed with extra tape, crinkled from over stuffing, and/or smudged as a result of a leaky pen or wet weather? Yikes! Using a proper-sized large envelope, sealing it carefully, and hand delivering it to the post office will give your application the extra edge over the others that seem to scream: I DON’T CARE!
3. Claim a clean email address!
firstname.lastname@example.org may seem sweet and innocent, but the 65 year old scholarship judge will probably not think so. CarolineGSmith@bmail.com is clean, does not make insinuations, and allows the judges to read the applicants name one more time, making that student more memorable without a lot of extra effort.
4. Use the social media Grandma test!
Just like email addresses, social media usernames and postings can be searched for and seen by scholarship judges. Tweeting how you hate school, using profanity, and then announcing that you sure hope you win the scholarship you just submitted, will backfire. What is posted on the internet does not go away and students need to use social media to share their strengths, talents, good works, and accomplishments. If you don’t want your Grandma to read it, don’t post it!
5. Personalize each scholarship deadline!
Students are so busy these days with sports, extra-curricular activities, jobs, volunteering (hopefully), and academics. As you find each scholarship, make your personal deadline at least two weeks before the actual one. Submitting scholarship applications consistently early will ensure that no deadlines are missed and all required materials are gathered and included without any last minute scrambling and frustration.
6. Cash-in on local scholarships!
Like early scholarships, local scholarships have less competition. Find as many local scholarships as possible, even creating situations that qualify you to apply. Local credit union offers a scholarship? Open an account, and then apply. Is the Lions Club holding a scholarship competition but no one in the family is a member? Call them and see if someone from the local chapter will sponsor you. Be polite, eager, and excited about college and they will be more inclined to help you. You may even find out that you or a family member does NOT have to be a member to apply for the club’s scholarship.
7. Go high school website hopping!
Most high schools list local scholarships on their websites. Don’t settle for just your high school’s list, go to other area high school websites and see if you qualify to apply for any of those scholarships. You can also go to college websites in your state to find scholarships offered to any student residing in that state. Read the guidelines for each scholarship carefully, making sure you don’t have to be an admitted student to qualify to apply for the scholarships.
8. Label yourself!
Create labels with your name, address, phone number, and name of each scholarship to stick on ALL pages of each scholarship application. When scholarship judges have stacks of applications to read, pages often become separated, and trying to find the rightful owner is an easy reason for the application to get put into the reject pile.
9. Read the newspaper!
Most newspapers have a “Names in the News” section announcing local accomplishments and awards won by area residents. Start reading this section daily and write down the names of local scholarships won by students who live around you. You will soon have a very long detailed list of local scholarships to apply for the following school year.
10. Resist the urge to text-type!
Although more and more people are using texting as a form of communication, resist the urge to text-type in your scholarship applications. A scholarship judge will have NO patience for an application filled with lack of punctuation, non-use of capitalization, and abbreviations that they have to guess at. YKWIM? (You Know What I Mean?)
11. Get past the first 30 seconds!
When a scholarship judge has piles of applications to wade through, the first glance at each application can make or break its chances of being placed into the possible winners pile. Having NO blank spaces, ALL required materials in the proper order, and nice neat paperwork will keep your application out of that dreaded reject pile.
12. Know the numbers!
Unless the scholarship guidelines specify a certain income level, go ahead and apply for the scholarship if you feel you have financial need. Don’t assume you or your parents make too much money to apply. Some organizations consider any income under $100,000 as needy. Need I say more?
There’s no denying that smart students win college scholarships. If you apply for each scholarship SMARTLY, use creative methods of finding them, and submit complete and thorough applications, you will automatically increase your chances of winning.
What else can you do to impress the scholarship judges?
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