Don't Make These Common Scholarship Application Mistakes
Every year, only 0.2% of students receive a scholarship of over $25,000. While you might not be aiming for such a high amount, the chances of you winning one can still be quite low.
It's true that there's no way to guarantee you'll secure a scholarship. But there are definitely things you can do that will disqualify you.
Here are some common scholarship application mistakes so you can avoid them!
Not Submitting Your FAFSA Form
The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. If you're looking for help from the federal government, then you're required to fill one of these out. As the name implies, it's completely free, so there's no harm in completing a FAFSA.
Many students think that if they're from a middle-class family that they don't qualify for FAFSA. However, this is a huge misconception!
If you're a US citizen, then you can fill out a FAFSA form. In fact, even some eligible non-citizens can utilize this form.
Your answer on the FAFSA form will determine how much financial aid you're eligible for, so make submitting your form a top priority.
Not Reading the Scholarship Instructions Carefully
Scholarships are very particular about what you have to submit. More specifically, they're very stringent about how you write your scholarship essay.
A lot of students are in a rush to apply for as many scholarships as they can, which means they don't read the instructions carefully. In the end, that only hurts them because they're automatically disqualified for missing components in their applications.
By investing a little more time in the beginning to read and understand scholarship instructions, you'll set yourself up for success.
Submitting a Lackluster Essay
Think about it: the judges are going to be reading essay after essay, trying to determine who deserves the scholarship. If you answer the essay questions in a bland manner, you're not going to stand out.
You need to make sure to start off the essay strong with an attention-grabbing hook. Keep the judges' interest by using interesting and colorful language.
But make sure you don't exaggerate your accomplishments or come off as arrogant. Always be honest and don't lie about or embellish your accomplishments because it'll be obvious you're doing so.
Applying for Scholarships You're Not Eligible For
On that note, the entire application process can be a waste of time if you're applying for scholarships you're not even eligible for.
For example, there are many GPA-based scholarships out there. Let's say you have a 3.4 GPA but apply for a scholarship intended for those with perfect GPAs. The judges aren't going to forgive you for being just 0.6 points away; they're going to automatically discard your application.
Make sure you don't waste anyone's time by carefully reading the eligibility requirements of each scholarship and only applying to those you qualify for.
Only Applying for Bigger Scholarships
Yes, those scholarships with large amounts are very attractive. But as we've said in the introduction, very few students actually win large scholarships like that. And not to mention, everyone's thinking the same thing you are, so the applicant pool is huge.
So instead of aiming for 1 huge scholarship, consider applying for (and winning) several smaller ones instead. While this might take a lot more work, you'll find that there's a lot less competition, especially if you apply for local scholarships.
Applying to Too Many Scholarships
While you don't want to stick with applying to just 1 big-ticket scholarship, you don't want to just apply for smaller scholarships left and right either. When you're not vetting scholarships, you'll spread yourself too thin and each application will be mediocre rather than stellar.
Take some time to read and consider each scholarship you're looking at. Then decide if you really want to apply and if it's worth your time. This can help you eliminate some off your list so you can put more time and effort into each application.
Applying Last Minute
Sure, applying last minute is much better than missing the deadline completely. But when you rush through your application, so many mistakes can happen and you won't have enough time to find and correct them.
Plus, your essay might not be as strong as it could be. Not to mention, what if the portal goes down, your internet disconnects, or even worse, the electricity goes out?
You want to be prepared for the worst-case scenario to happen. By giving yourself ample time to apply, it'll be less stressful.
Not Applying at All
Last, but certainly not least, the biggest mistake you can make is not applying at all! There are so many misconceptions floating out there concerning scholarships; we're sure you've heard a few of them.
This might've discouraged you from applying for any scholarship. However, the best thing to do is to be determined and persistent in finding the right ones for you. It certainly wouldn't hurt to try for scholarships you're eligible for, especially if there's a good chunk of money attached to them!
Make Sure Your Scholarship Application Is Perfect
Being awarded some money for college can be an amazing thing that reduces some financial pressure. By taking some time to ensure your scholarship application is perfect, you'll significantly raise your chances of being the person the judges pick.
The next time you're applying for a scholarship, keep this article in mind. If you're able to be mindful and avoid these common mistakes, you're sure to stand out against all the other applicants.