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  1. Identify and Meet the sponsor’s goals. Who wins scholarships?  The student who best meets the sponsor’s formal and informal requirements.  Therefore, to win a scholarship, you need to meet a sponsor’s goals.  As simple as this may seem, many students simply meet the sponsor’s minimal requirements and hope for the best.  Do not do this!  Read through all the scholarship information watching for details and clues about what the sponsor’s formal and informal requirements.  By meeting the sponsor’s goals you increase you chance of winning exponentially!
  2. Participate in extracurricular activities. Surprisingly, most scholarship committees do not simply choose the student with the highest grade point average (GPA) or SAT score.  Instead, most scholarships are equally interested in a student’s extracurricular activities.  Is he/she involved in the community?  Does he/she have an after-school job?  Did he/she start his own business?  What hobbies does he/she have?  The scholarship coordinators are interested in giving the award to the person they consider the most well-rounded student.  Grades are important, but they are only part of the story.  Therefore, it is to your advantage to participate in extracurricular activities.  Join 4-H.  Volunteer at your local library.  Start a business.  Find a hobby.  All these activities will help make you stand out to scholarship sponsors.
  3. Watch the deadline. We will never know how much scholarship money is lost simply because the applicant missed the deadline.  When students are applying to many scholarships at once it is easy to confuse the deadlines and send the applications on the wrong date.  To avoid this danger, students should keep a calendar either on paper or online.  On your calendar, write the name of each scholarship in red on its deadline, and in black one week before the deadline.  Try to get scholarship applications in before the black (early) deadline but make sure that you get it in before the red (final) deadline.
  4. Proofread your application one more time. How can you increase your chance of winning in under 5 minutes? By proofreading your application.  Most scholarship committees do not even consider scholarship applications that have major blunders.  Did you get your address right?  Did you get the scholarship name right?  What about the coordinator’s name?  Once you have verified the information on the application, read through you essay once more.  Are there any major spelling errors?  What about grammar errors?  Is the header of the essay formatted correctly?  Simply spending a little more time proofing your work can vastly increase your chance of winning.
  5. Search, Search, SEARCH! Persistence is the key to getting a scholarship.  Finding good scholarships is often a difficult job.  The harder a time you have finding a scholarship; the less competition you will have!  So, keep on looking and eventually you should get a scholarship.
  6. Organize your surroundings and your time. Keeping organized is one of the most important habits all college students should develop.  It helps with study time.  It helps with scholarships. When your surroundings are organized, is easy to concentrate on your application.  On the other hand, when your surroundings are disordered, it is easy to get distracted or loose important papers.  Organizing your time is equally important.  When your time is well-scheduled, you can reduce “dead time” and meet your deadlines.  However, when your time is not ordered, it is easy to miss important deadlines or schedule two things for the same time.  Keep organized!
  7. Watch for scholarship scams. Sadly, there are many scam artists who try to make money off gullible students.  College scholars lose millions of dollars every year to these scholarship scams!  That is the bad news.  Now, here is the good news – most scholarship scams are easily recognizable … if you know the signs.  The cardinal rule of scholarship scams is: “If it takes money to get money, it is probably a scam.”  After all, aren’t scholarship sponsors supposed to be giving you money?  Strictly following this rule will help you escape most scams, but some scams are not so easily caught.  Certain scholarship scams do not ask for money.  Instead, they request personal information, so they can commit identity theft or other crimes!  For more information on avoiding scholarship scams read my post on the “23 Warning Signs of Scholarship Scams“.
  8. Write an Accomplishments Resume. Often when writing scholarships, it is difficult to remember some important piece of information.  The date that you started work at a certain job.  Or what your boss said about your work.  Looking for this information can break your concentration, lower your writing quality, and decrease your chance of winning the scholarship.  Before you start applying for scholarships, write an accomplishment resume.  On this resume include all the important information such as dates, a summary of your work, and recommendations. 
  9. Use concrete examples in essays. If the scholarship requires that you write an essay (and most do), don’t simply use abstract information – use concrete examples.  For example, instead of writing an abstract essay about volunteering in college, write about your experiences while volunteering.  This is an excellent time to use your accomplishments resume.  Scholarship sponsors want to hear about you and your experiences, not about some abstract topic.
  10. Double check the eligibility requirements. Does the scholarship require demonstrated need?  What about full-time enrollment?  Or a minimum GPA?  Double checking the eligibility requirements will save you time spent in writing unnecessary scholarship applications.
Last updated: 10/23/2013 5:15:51 PM