With rising college costs each year, scholarships can be a huge help. It can be frustrating and hard to continue applying to them if you’ve filled out multiple applications but still haven’t been selected for one. Don’t be discouraged if money isn’t rolling in yet. Here are 6 ways to turn things around and guide you on the way to winning or help you keep up your winning streak.
1. Strive For A Strong Academic Background
Even if you write a stellar essay and your recommendations say that you’re great, low grades or low standardized test scores may hold you back. Others may share your passion for volunteering, but it could be your grades that make you stand out. Many scholarships, especially the larger ones, have a minimum GPA requirement. Don’t let your grades or scores be the factor that prevents you from being able to apply to scholarships. High grades and test scores can only benefit you when it comes to scholarships.
2. Look Locally
Although nationally known scholarships may come with larger amounts of aid and other perks such as a new supportive network as you go through college, local scholarships are less competitive. It’s simple; the less people who apply, the greater your chances are. When a scholarship is restricted to the people in your high school or the students in your district, the pool of applicants will be smaller. Local scholarships sometimes aren’t advertised as much as larger scholarships, so speaking to a counselor or another staff member at your school may be a good place to start.
3. Start Small
Don’t push aside a scholarship application just because the award amount is a smaller. That $500 may seem little now, but you’ll be thankful for it when it’s time to buy your textbooks. Winning multiple small scholarships add up, so while it may take more time this way, it’ll be worth it in the long run. The honor of winning smaller scholarships may also help you stand out to the bigger scholarship organizations. It shows that other organizations saw something about you worth awarding. Even though an application has multiple steps that don’t seem worth the trouble, remember that every little bit of aid helps when it comes to paying for college.
4. Know What They’re Looking For
Most scholarships have some sort of description or mission statement that explains what they’re looking for in applicants. If it’s a scholarship offered by an organization or business with a mission statement for themselves, look at that too. It can’t hurt to know what they value. Frame your essay(s) and other pieces of the application in a way that shows you fit what they’re looking for. Check their website for information about past winners. This doesn’t mean that you should try to copy them, but maybe you’ll notice something they all had in common.
5. Be Strategic With Recommendations
For some scholarships, it may be pretty easy to decide who to ask for recommendations, such as your science teacher for an engineering scholarship or the teacher who supervises the club you started for a scholarship that looks for leadership. Think about not only which teacher knows your qualities well but who has also witnessed your skill or talent in a certain subject or activity. It may also help to explain to them why you want the scholarship so that they can express your motivation for it in their recommendation.
6. Keep Applying
This is kind of a no-brainer, but the more scholarships you apply to the more opportunities you have to win. Don’t stop applying just because you think you have a good chance at winning a large scholarship. It’s better to be in the position of having more scholarships than necessary than ending up with none. Over time, you’ll develop a collection of essays to tweak and use when you discover other scholarships. Just remember, you have no chance of winning if you don’t apply.