8 Crucial Tips to Consider When You Apply for Scholarships
The average price for a public school's in-state tuition is about $9,716. If you're going out of state, that number goes up to $21,629. If you're going to private school, it's $35,676.
Did we mention that's per year?
No doubt about it: you're going to want to apply for scholarships. But how can you increase your chances? Here are 8 crucial tips that you need to consider for the best chances of getting that extra cash for college.
1. Always Keep the Deadline in Mind
First thing's first: start looking sooner rather than later. When should you start applying? As soon as the information is available, start working on your scholarship application
Try creating a calendar outlining the deadlines for various scholarships. But make sure to apply well before the deadline. This gives you plenty of time to fix any errors and make sure processing goes as smoothly as possible.
To stay focused, consider making an application schedule. Dedicate a certain time each day or a certain day of the week to completing these applications.
And even once you get into college, continue to apply. As many as half of all scholarships are for current college students.
2. Don't Just Apply for Scholarship With a Big Payout
Yes, it's true: you'll need quite a chunk of change to afford college. But only applying for scholarships with a large reward puts you at a disadvantage.
Those large scholarships are going to be much more competitive. Many smaller scholarships will be more specific and have fewer applicants, thus offering better odds. And getting several small scholarships will add up to help you in the long run.
3. Be Honest
You know the saying: honesty is the best policy. Stretching the truth about your grades, qualifications, or group memberships will haunt you. But that doesn't have to be a bad thing.
Focus on finding scholarships that do match your skill set. Additionally, you have to be truthful, but there's no problem emphasizing your strengths. Make sure to talk up your achievements and find ways to point out your accomplishments.
4. Keep Your Essay Focused
It's important to keep your scholarship essay focused. The review board is going to have to read hundreds or thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of essays before determining who makes the cut. If your essay doesn't focus on the necessary details, it's likely to end up in the trash bin.
Most essays will be about yourself. In personal essays, you need to focus on who you are, your future goals, and why you deserve this scholarship.
Above all, make sure to read the essay guidelines. These should be at the forefront when you're writing any scholarship essay.
And don't blindly recycle your scholarship essays. At least some aspect of them should be tailored for that specific application.
5. Apply for Scholarships That Are Relevant
There are thousands upon thousands of scholarship opportunities out there. So when you apply for scholarships, you're going to need to stay focused.
Have a unique hobby? It might have its own scholarship. You don't have to be a straight-A student or a fantastic athlete to qualify.
Be sure to look into scholarship opportunities for your club and organization memberships. For example, Honor Society offers several scholarships to our members.
And don't limit yourself to one type of scholarship. Be sure to branch out and apply for a range of merit-based, need-based, and skill-based scholarships.
6. Double-Check Everything
Thoroughly check everything before submission. Any typos or mistakes are going to reduce your chances of winning that scholarship. With such a competitive atmosphere, this step is crucial.
It's not all about grammar, though. Make sure you've answered all questions and followed all instructions. If you're reusing an essay, make sure you didn't include any references to another scholarship application.
And double-check that the application actually got to the committee. If sending out an application through email, follow up a week later to confirm. If you're sending it via mail, check the tracking and call them when you get confirmation of the delivery.
7. Ask Around
The importance of this point is two-fold.
First, ask around to learn about potential scholarship opportunities. Ask fellow members at your extracurricular, at your job, or even have your parents ask around. And, of course, make use of your school counselor to ask about any opportunities.
The second step of this is to get a second opinion on your application material. Ask a parent, teacher, or friend to look it over and provide constructive feedback. Be sure to also provide the prompt of the essay so that they can make sure your work is focused and clear.
8. Beware of Scams
Unfortunately, there are plenty of people looking to take advantage of scholarship applicants. Keep a lookout for the following when applying for your scholarship:
- You should never have to pay a fee to apply. If one is requested, it's almost certainly a scam.
- If you can't find any information about the sponsor of the scholarship, it's a huge red flag.
- If you're asked for your social security number, credit card number, or any other questionable details, it's likely a scam.
- If you're guaranteed to win, it's not a legitimate scholarship opportunity.
For more information, check out the FTC's report about scholarships and financial aid scams.
Apply for Scholarships Today!
Looking to apply for scholarships? The Honor Society has a list of scholarship opportunities offered by ourselves as well as other organizations. Check it out now!