How to Apply for a Scholarship Program for College Students
You’ve just been accepted to your dream college, but you’re not sure how you’re going to pay for it. One solution is applying for scholarship programs, but there are many application steps to follow if you want to secure your funding without fail. Read on to learn how to apply for a scholarship program for college students and ensure that your academic pursuits won’t cost you more than they have to.
What you can expect
Once you’ve gathered your list of potential scholarship opportunities, you’ll want to sit down and start researching each one. Most applications will have some type of an application fee or due date. When in doubt, contact the organization directly and ask what’s required of you. Some organizations may require only an essay, others may require multiple essays or other documents, such as official transcripts and financial aid forms. You might also need letters of recommendation or even an interview with a member of their staff. To help keep track of all your deadlines, consider using an online calendar tool like Google Calendar—it can help you manage everything from work projects to household chores with ease.
Know which scholarship you want before applying
The best way to find out which scholarships you qualify for is by researching. Once you know what’s available, it’s also important to focus on your target schools so that you can tailor your scholarship applications accordingly. You should also choose which scholarships are worth applying for and keep in mind: not all scholarships are worth applying for. If you come across one that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers often create fake scholarships just to ask applicants for money or personal information; no matter how much of a bargain it might seem, don’t give out your bank account details or social security number if you haven’t researched and verified that it’s real.
Start looking early
The best time to start looking for scholarships is before you have any idea which colleges you’ll be applying to. In fact, your high school counselors may have already asked you to submit an application for several scholarship programs by early senior year. But don’t wait until then. If you decide on a college even just three months before its application deadline, there may not be time left in your senior year (or junior or sophomore year!) to apply and win one of those thousands of scholarships that schools offer every year. So start looking now, and make sure you fill out applications all four years in high school—even if it feels like a waste of time!
Don’t apply to too many scholarships at once
While it’s tempting to apply to as many scholarships as possible, you should resist that urge. You have only limited time and energy, so don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to do everything at once. There are thousands of scholarships out there, so build relationships with some of them—don’t burn any bridges by applying and reapplying every year. While it might be difficult in your first couple years out of high school (or if you decide not go right into college), try applying for one or two awards per semester over four years of college instead. Even if you find more opportunities after starting your application process, focus on getting one or two done per year: even better than applying repeatedly is applying smartly.
Make sure your application stands out
As noted above, you’ll be competing with hundreds of other students. To ensure that your application stands out, make sure you tailor your application to address each scholarship’s specific criteria. For example, if you’re applying for a scholarship that favors sports players, talk about how hard you work at being on your school’s soccer team. If you’re applying for an art-focused scholarship, include photographs or slideshows of past projects. Make sure there are no typos or other errors and proofread multiple times before hitting send!
Look at essay writing services if needed
While it’s true that college is an investment in your future, it’s also not exactly cheap. Between tuition, books, room and board, even travel expenses, many students can have a difficult time balancing all of their financial obligations. Scholarships are a great way to help make your college education more affordable by helping you offset some of those associated costs and allowing you to direct those funds toward things like travel. If you’re planning on applying for scholarships in order to help pay for school, there are some important things you should know about how they work before starting down that path.
Do follow the instructions given by the scholarship provider
Each scholarship provider will have specific requirements on how and when to apply. Some may even request that you write an essay or submit a video of yourself explaining why you should receive the award. Be sure to read all instructions carefully and note any dates that applications are due. If deadlines fall on weekends or holidays, it’s important that you allow extra time for submitting your application (maybe one week earlier). Don’t neglect these details: It’s very easy to overlook something like putting a postage stamp on an envelope! Make sure your application is complete and makes sense before sending it in. Just because you’ve met all requirements doesn’t mean your application is guaranteed acceptance.
If asked for recommendation letters, get them from people who know you well
Choosing your recommenders is an opportunity to further explore who you are and what you want out of life. Think about people who know you well and can speak from personal experience on why they think you’re someone worth investing in. The same goes for your college essay: Your potential scholarship provider knows that everyone loves self-deprecating humor or has an overdeveloped sense of duty — but what do these things say about your goals and motivations? Be honest about who you are, not just what everyone else expects of you. This person should support whatever goals or ambitions you have, even if they differ from theirs.