How To Fill Out Scholarship Applications

No matter how many times students are told that they would make great candidates for a certain handout of free money, the convenient excuse to avoid the application chore is to say, “I’m sure there are a ton of people out there more qualified than me.”  The truth is that there probably ARE people out there more qualified than you, and they are probably saying exactly the same thing you are.  See how this ends up?  They don’t take advantage of any scholarship applications! Both Justin and myself were given fairly substantial amounts of money throughout our education journey, and this is coming from a couple of guys who should hold shares in the campus pub they donated so much money there!  This isn’t a self-help pitch, or a cliché, when we say, “We did it, so can you,” we literally mean exactly that!

Scholarship Applications
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Eight Quick Tips For Filling Out Scholarship Applications

1) The more you write, the easier they are.  Often, you can use the same introduction (or a slightly adapted version) for many different applications.  After all, how many different ways do you need to describe how awesome you are?

2) Say it with me, “I… deserve… free… money.”  I know it would be more appropriate to say, “My educational pursuits are worthy of being supported,” but somehow it just isn’t as motivational.  Likely, the biggest thing stopping you from raking in easy dough is your own procrastination (the student special) and disbelief that you could be the one accepting a sweet cheque one day.

3) Be “creative” when your write your application.  I’m not advocating for anyone to make anything up or lie, but you need to understand how effective language is used.  For example, who would you give a scholarship to, a person that wrote: “I worked at McDonalds for two years,” or, “I built my practical business and communication skills in an entry level position, while learning how to positively contribute to building a team atmosphere.  I learned the value of hard work, team support, clear directions, multitasking and clear communication from a variety of perspectives while being trusted with rising levels of responsibility?”  See the difference there?  When in doubt, give your old ELA teacher a call, we love to help with this crap, it gives us the warm fuzzies.

4) Don’t just use “flowery” language that doesn’t mean anything.  Don’t overuse words like: team-oriented, hard worker, smart, capable, fast-learner etc.  Try to tie these nice buzzwords into specific situations.  What makes you team-oriented?  Maybe you picked up these skills through various athletic activities, or maybe working at McDonalds as in our above example.  Oftentimes creative description will be enough on a scholarship/bursary/grant application, whereas it wouldn’t be on say a job application, simply because there are fewer people applying and there is much less at stake for whomever is picking the “winner” (no major repercussions for picking someone who didn’t deserve free money, whereas if you hire a bad employee, that’s a world of headaches for an administrator).  The real good scholarships will require you to tie in some real substance as you dress it up a little (it’s really not that hard once you do it a few times).

5) Check the application and any information shown with the scholarship.  There are often great tips on what buzzwords administrators will be looking for as they scan over applications.  Often these are in the “criteria” section.  Some common examples are: citizenship, diversity, leadership etc.  Simply take the description, language, and organization you have used from other applications and tailor it to the theme of the new one.  I was a big fan of proving whatever I wanted by saying, “I was able to maintain a full course load with a ____ GPA, while doing ____.”  Then I would simply fill in an activity that pertained to the group, club, organization or theme of the scholarship.

6) The obvious writing mechanics shouldn’t be ignored.  Watch out for word limits and minimums.  More often now applications have shorter word maximums which will require you to make every word count.  Get someone else to proofread your application, or try reading it backwards to pick up any minor mistakes.  Don’t give anyone an excuse to throw your application away.

7) Check out our article on where to find these scholarship applications.  Free money in the form of scholarships, bursaries and grants is literally all around you just waiting to be taken!

Anyone with another tip to add to the list for our readers to benefit from?

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I have found it much easier to develop a sort of “scholarship resume”. This includes your list of awards and achievements, your GPA, clases taken, experiences, and available references. These are all bit of information that many scholarships request. Having this information on hand, can save you a lot of time when completing the applications.

I think that a lot of students definitely think “I’ll never get picked so why bother,” but others are just not motivated enough to do the leg work. I’ve received two scholarships over last 3 semesters because I filled out my application, reworked one single paper, and asked people I know for a reference. If you don’t apply, the chances of getting free money are zero, but if you apply, your chances are greatly improved. Especially departmental scholarships; there are often more available than the amount of applicants.;)

Wow are you serious? I’m sure that student must be really happy!

I haven’t heard back from any of the applications I sent off earlier in the year. I think it would help (and increase applications) if they tell you approximately when they will let you know.

otherwise it really feels like a lot of effort for nothing.

There is a lot of help available to get financial aid, scholarships and grants when you call and speak to a college advisor.

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