8 Scholarship Tips

Tips include starting early, being organized, writing an essay, being patient, and understanding terms.
Students taking a test

To help stay on track when applying for scholarships for college, here are 8 tips to keep in mind:

  1. Early bird gets the worm. Applying early for scholarships gives you an edge over other students that wait until the last minute. By tackling this process early, not only are you showing that you are a motivated student, but it gives you ample time to research sites and consider where you might want to apply.
  2. Organize, Organize, and Organize. Once you have an idea of where you will apply, keep a running list of deadlines, scholarship amounts, and when you plan to actually apply. Creating a table in Microsoft Excel or Word is a great start.
  3. Don't overlook scholarships that offer smaller amounts or awards. The more scholarships you apply for, the better your chances are of winning. Plus, every scholarship award alleviates any college expense.
  4. You might have to write an essay. Some students shy away from applying for scholarships that require an essay. However, a well written essay can be your golden ticket to standing out from the crowd and claiming the final prize. If writing isn't your niche, consider asking someone at school or family member for help.
  5. Look past your grades. You do not need to have a 3.9 GPA to apply or qualify for scholarships. In fact, some scholarships do not take grades into account. Whether you are at the top of your class or not, it is important to remember any special talents or skills you have. Perhaps think about why you deserve that scholarship over everyone else.
  6. Quality over Quantity. It's great to be able to send as many applications as you can before a deadline. However, there is no point in doing so if a majority of them are not your best work. Make sure you are proud of every application you turn in while being cautious of selling yourself short.
  7. Be patient. Sometimes not hearing back from a scholarship opportunity can be frustrating. Just remember that the entire application process takes times and that sometimes you might not hear anything. Above everything else, try not to feel discouraged in your chances of winning.
  8. Understand the Terms of Scholarships. So you've received a few scholarships and what happens next? Be sure to carefully read the terms and notify your college financial aid office. Also, pay close attention to which year the scholarship(s) are good for and if there are any contingencies with using the scholarship for more than one year. Keep in mind that most private scholarships are only awarded for one academic year. So if you win a scholarship for freshman year, you shouldn't count on receiving it for future years unless you know it's renewable. When in doubt, check with the scholarship agency to find out if you can receive the scholarship for multiple years, and any criteria you need to meet to do so.

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