The secret, if there is one, to winning a scholarship is to read the application carefully and then provide all of the required information and supporting documentation before the deadline.
However, there is actually no secret. The only way to win a scholarship is to apply and keep applying.
Avoid the following mistakes when applying for scholarships:
1. Starting too late. When you start looking through potential scholarships early, you can position and prepare yourself better. You ask “If the scholarship essay will ask me these questions three years from now, what experiences will help me answer it?” You then work towards the goals you identify as vital in getting you the scholarship.
2. Failing to familiarize yourself with many types of scholarships. Millions are awarded in scholarships each year from different organizations, companies, colleges and universities. But they do not come knocking on your door. You have to knock on theirs. It is entirely up to you to find out about all sorts of help available. Start early and thoroughly familiarize yourself with what is available.
3. Applying for one or two scholarships and then stopping. That is a big mistake. Your first one or two scholarship applications are the hardest you can ever make. Once you have made your initial applications, you now have material on which to draw on; you will have done 60% of the work to apply for 10.
4. Relying on good grades alone in your application for scholarships. Good grades are not the only attribute that influences the scholarship committee. Participation in extracurricular activities is important in portraying oneself as a well-rounded person; but is not sufficient in itself to justify a scholarship grant.
You do not have to be super smart to win a scholarship. Many scholarships require applicants to have average grade point. But once you have met that minimum, the evaluation committee does not look at your grades.
Sometimes, students with really high grades have trouble filling out scholarship applications because they rely on their scores alone. Good grades are not enough. Write a compelling essay or motivation letter. Show how you demonstrated leadership within a club, rather than just indicating your affiliation.
You need to paint a portrait of who you are, not just what you have done. You do that by making your applications intensely personal and unique. That helps to make an emotional connection with scholarship judges. They award scholarships to people they can make a connection with, not to CVs.
5. Failing to learn vital rules, principles, and strategies in scholarship application. Take your time to read and understand instructions. Follow the rules given. Ensure you meet the eligibility criteria. Talk to other students who have previously applied successfully for a scholarship. Looking at winning applications will help you see what works.
6. Check out on your spellings, grammar and ensure the scholarship form is completely filled out and submitted before the deadline. Do not leave out supporting documentation such as recommendations and transcripts in your scholarship application.
7. Failing to reapply. Often students apply more than once before winning a scholarship. If you failed this year, you may be lucky next year provided you still meet the eligibility criteria.
8. Paying application fees. You do not need to pay application fees to get a scholarship. However, application fees may be needed if your application is for admission to a college or university. You need to distinguish between the two.
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