Whether you’re a high school senior buried under a seemingly-endless pile of application to-do lists or a college student looking for any and every chance to save some cash, you are bound to come across mass scholarship search engines and random websites offering “no-essay scholarships.” These opportunities seem too good to be true – and you know it – but you may apply for them anyways. While scholarships such as these may sound appealing, they may not be the most worthwhile or trustworthy.
Instead of spending your valuable time applying for scholarships that only require your email address, Twitter handle, or other singular bits of information, try to focus on a smaller number of more involved scholarship applications. Here are a few things to remember when searching for scholarships and examining no-essay applications:
Quality over quantity
I get it – you’re busy and exhausted. The no-essay scholarships are luring you in like that adorable dog video your mom just sent you Facebook. However, it is more worthwhile to submit a few detailed, quality essays, resumes, and applications than to spend your time applying to a massive amount of barely-involved scholarships that require minimal information about you, your personality, achievements, and academic and professional aspirations.
Since these no-essay, survey-esque applications may only take five or ten minutes to complete, they may seem convenient – but are they worth it? Time is money, especially during application season. Don’t spend your time creating accounts you’ll only use once, or applying to scholarships where the odds of you winning are (actually) one in a million. Instead, spend a few minutes each day revising and perfecting an essay or adding a personal touch to short answer questions or descriptions on your resume.
Select scholarships that mean something to you
One of the main issues with no-essay scholarships is that they typically lack specific requirements that the applicant can relate to. More involved local, national, and university-wide scholarships may be memorial scholarships – honoring a special person or cause – or may cater to a specific interest, discipline, achievement, age group, grade level, or level of financial need.
When searching for scholarship opportunities, be on the lookout for qualities such as these, as well as relatable requirements or prompts and a reliable source or organization. No-essay scholarships limit your chance to explain your financial situation, achievements, abilities, and passions. The essay section may not always be the easiest part of the application to complete, but it allows applicants to express themselves, increasing their chances of standing out and being honored with a fitting award.
Avoid scams and spam
From scrolling through Pinterest (Or The Prospect!) to watching ’80s music videos on YouTube (We’ve all had those days…right?), there are many positive parts of the Internet. Sadly, though, the World Wide Web isn’t always the safest place. Some webpages disguised as simple scholarship sites may ask for credit card numbers, social security numbers, or other unnecessary pieces of information. Steer clear of any and all “scholarships” that require credit card information – or scholarships that trigger multiple unrelated popups or ads. (They’re supposed to be giving you money, not taking it!)
If you aren’t sure about a form or application you are completing, ask a parent, teacher, or guidance counselor if the website or organization is legitimate. To avoid scams and spam, stick to scholarships offered to you directly by your high school, college, or a familiar, trusted organization. For more information on scholarship scams, check out this link from the U.S. Department of Education.
The takeaway: It’s acceptable to enter a few no-essay scholarships every now and then, but don’t rely on these contests for financial aid or genuine opportunities. A detailed application may be time consuming, but remember that it doesn’t always pay to take the easy way out.