Getting into the college or university of your dreams is challenging enough. Accumulating the money you need to fund your tuition, living expenses and books is a whole other can of worms. The following strategies, if applied strategically and diligently, can drastically increase your chances of getting the scholarships you apply for.
Steps to increase your chances of getting a scholarship.
Websites, such as Scholarships.com and Fastweb.com are oversaturated with students who, just like you, are earnestly applying for scholarships. This oversaturation makes it difficult for even the most qualified applicants to stand out. Therefore, applying for scholarships at your local church, non-profits, school district, state and city offices, or even restaurants – to name a few – SIGNIFICANTLY increases your chances of acquiring a scholarship.
In high school, I realized this was the key, and I won every scholarship I applied for (except for one scholarship I applied for on fastweb.com). When the pool of applicants is narrowed down to students in your community or state, put more time and effort into these scholarships because you’re most likely not competing against hundreds or even thousands of applicants.
Make sure you are a great candidate for the scholarship.
Students are often told to apply for as many scholarships as possible, in hopes of successfully winning a few. This is a huge waste of time and effort. If you are not a stellar candidate for a scholarship, the reviewing committee will be able to tell within the first few minutes of reading your application. Make sure that you not only meet the requirements, but are an excellent candidate. If the scholarship requires 100 community service hours and you’ve accumulated 250 for the year, you are positioned in a great place. However, if you only have 105 hours, you’ll appear only slightly above average as opposed to exceptional!
Be exceptional in your academics, extracurriculars, and test taking, so you can stand out from the crowd. Putting in this work consistently positions you to be rewarded for your hard work.
Improve your persuasive skills.
This is imperative and cannot be overstated. Most scholarships include a persuasive writing component where you must state why you are the perfect candidate for the scholarship. Even more so, many scholarships ask you to respond to a prompt. If you’re a poor writer, your chances of getting these scholarships are slim. Don’t be discouraged, you can work on that!
You must become skilled at comprehending exactly what the prompt is asking you, answer it, and make sure everything you write ties into it throughout your essay. When necessary, if you’re asked why you deserve the scholarship, you must tie it in to what the awarding organization values. For example, let’s say you plan to become a veterinarian and the ASPCA is awarding scholarships to students who will pursue that line of work. It is your responsibility to address the values of that business or organization (such as saving defenseless animals) and how your present or future achievements make you an excellent candidate.
Knowing your audience is imperative to communicating with them and persuading them effectively. You want the reader to be enamored with you, and it’s your job to help them see why you’re perfect for that scholarship.
I recommend taking a debate class or participating in debate club, reading, and studying persuasive essays to fine-tune these skills. Also, have a stranger (someone you know, but don’t talk to often) read over your essays and ask if they are CONVINCED that you’ve solidly answered the prompt.
Instead of wasting time and effort, apply these strategies. This will boost your chances of winning the scholarships you apply for and make a huge difference for you.