So, you’ve made it through the year. You’ve applied for tons of scholarships or maybe just a few. Either way, you are gearing up for success with your scholarship pursuits as you enter the new year. Here are a few strategies on how to apply for scholarships in 2020.
Start your research now.
Now is the perfect time to begin searching for the scholarships you qualify for. If you don’t qualify now, don’t worry. With a little time and effort, you’ll find scholarships you can apply for.
The start of the year is a great time to start because you won’t have to rush to apply. The more time you have to prepare your essays, prompts, resumes or letters of recommendation, the better your chance of submitting a compelling and competitive application.
Spend significant time looking for scholarships online, but also ask your career counselor or your local librarian for resources. You can also find scholarship resources on Amazon! Free money is all around you. You just need to take time to look for it.
After you’re done reading this article, I encourage you to check out the following sites to get started on your scholarship search:
Look for specialized scholarships.
If you’re a video gamer, part of a minority group, or applying to a specialized program like engineering, there are special scholarships for you. If you are musician, Google search “scholarships for musicians.” If you are Mexican American, look for scholarships that are for people in this demographic.
Specialized scholarships are a great way to apply for scholarships with a smaller applicant pool. These scholarships allow you to attain funding with minimal effort because they are already a part of who you are or something you do. I would encourage you to spend the vast majority of your time applying for these scholarships, as you may not have as much competition as you would a general scholarship that is open to everyone.
Keep in mind that after you receive your college acceptance letters and make your final decision, the work is not over yet! Your college or university will most likely have merit-based scholarships, scholarships specific to people in your major, and university-wide scholarships available to anyone. Ask your financial aid and major advisors for scholarship resources, as they would be happy to help. There are many scholarships available to students who are in college, so stay involved on campus and maintain a good standing with your advisor, so when a scholarship becomes available, they can notify you.
Create an Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheet of scholarships.
Getting an early start is great, but you need to keep everything organized. Thankfully, we live in a digital age. Use Excel or Google Sheets to stay on track. I recommend you organize your scholarships like this:
- Scholarship name and link to the application
- Small details about the scholarship
- Due date
This will make a world of difference for you, and you will have all the information you need at your fingertips. I suggest you also organize your search by month.
If you have one, use your cell phone to give you reminders of your scholarship due dates. Give yourself 2-3 weeks to apply, depending on the scholarship.
Take time every month – at least once a month – to update and make additions to your list of scholarships. The more consistent you are, the greater your chances. So, make it a priority to invest a few hours every month purely for scholarship searching.
Make your profile stand out.
You have applied the above steps; you’ve found a scholarship you are eligible for and now you are ready to apply. Give yourself ample time to complete the application and accumulate any required documents. If your scholarship requires an essay or a letter of recommendation, make sure they stand out.
You need to know who your audience is and speak to them directly. How you write an essay to your teacher and an essay to a local politician is completely different. Therefore, make sure you can answer the prompt effectively while speaking directly to your reader. Your words should pull them in within the first few sentences. This does not have to be done dramatically, but masterfully. You can do this by painting imagery, using sensory words and using persuasive language. No matter what tools you employ, you want to engage your reader.
Can you imagine a scholarship review team having to read through over 100 applications? What type of essay do you think will stand out to them? Take time to outline your essays before you start writing them, so you’re intentional with your wording before you get started.
Write multiple drafts. This is money we are talking about here. Take your application seriously. Do not wait until the last minute to get started on it because it will be evident in your work. Take all the time you need to write several drafts until it is your masterpiece.
Letters of recommendation.
If your scholarship requires a letter of recommendation, be picky about who you ask to write it. Your letter of recommendation should provide your reader with an added perspective of who you are. That being said, do not ask a teacher, coach, supervisor, or advisor who barely knows you to write it because it will be evident that they hardly know you or think little of you.
Choose a teacher, coach, supervisor, or advisor that actually knows you and will speak highly of you. This requires work on your part. Talk to this person often about your goals and dreams. Help them on projects, as needed. Essentially, this person should be able to say more than, “Insert your name here, is an excellent student who actively participated in class discussions.” Take time to build great relationships with your teachers, coaches, supervisors, and advisors because it will pay off in the long run!
Find an accountability partner.
If you are serious about applying for scholarships and winning them, you need to give yourself every opportunity to be successful. Find a friend, teacher, or parent to read and review your scholarship applications. Make sure this person has the time and is willing to help you in this process. Having an extra set of eyes will help catch errors you didn’t see and provide you with a different perspective.
2020 is a new year for you to conquer the scholarship application process. The earlier you start implementing these strategies, the better your chances of getting those scholarships! Good luck and Happy New Decade!