Applying for Scholarships Tips

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How can I come up with good things to say about myself in a scholarship application essay?

Toot Your Own Horn in Your Scholarship Application Essays

Before you actually start filling out your scholarship applications, you need to spend some time thinking about how to write a scholarship essay that will get the results that you want. For many people, the hardest part of writing a scholarship essay is getting comfortable singing their own praises. In order to convince the judges that you should receive the scholarship instead of the other applicants, you have to tell the judges what makes you a better candidate.

Therefore, one of the most important things you have to do when getting ready to write your college scholarship essays is to spend some time reflecting on just how wonderful you really are. When you write down all of the great things you have accomplished, it will be much easier for you to create an essay that conveys your strong points to the judges.

Tips for Getting Ready to Toot Your Own Horn:

1. Make a list of all your accomplishments.

2. Develop a list of your extracurricular activities.

3. Write down the three accomplishments of which you are the most proud.

4. Think of a problem that you have faced and write down how you were able to overcome it.

5. Put in writing your career goals, or your reason for wanting to attend college.

6. Pretend that you had to write a letter of recommendation for yourself. Write down the three most important things you would say.

Armed with this list of your best traits, accomplishments, and goals, you're on your way to writing a winning essay. Of course, you have to make sure that your essay is well written, on-topic, sounds sincere, and is free of typographical errors. No matter what you end up saying about yourself, be sure to proofread it very carefully. It's always a great idea to have someone else double check for spelling, grammar, and mechanical errors.

What kinds of questions am I going to have to write essays about for my college scholarship applications?

Common Scholarship Essay Questions

If you are planning to apply for several scholarships, be prepared to write answers to scholarship essay questions covering a wide variety of topics. Scholarship providers who require applicants write essays do so for several reasons. One of the main reasons for requiring an essay as part of a scholarship application package is to verify that the student is willing to commit the time and energy to putting together a thoughtful and well-written essay.

Another common reason for requiring an original writing sample is that the judges have a chance to get a better sense of who applicants really are from an essay than from a standard scholarship application form. Scholarship essay topics that focus on the applicant's background and career goals often have this objective.

Scholarship programs that award funding for related to special interest groups or for people with certain majors or career goals often require applicants to write essays that demonstrate their commitment to the organization's cause or reasons for wanting to gain employment in the field of study. In a sense, essays can give these types a scholarship providers as to whether or not an applicant is a “good investment.”

Examples of Real-life Scholarship Essay Questions include:

  • Describe one specific example of your leadership ability.
  • Describe why you wish to obtain a college education and why you are deserving of a scholarship.
  • Describe what influenced your decision to pursue Nursing as a career.
  • What personal information do you wish to share with the scholarship selection committees?

How do I write a good college essay?

Guidelines for Writing a Good Essay

Many programs require scholarship essays as part of the application process. When tackling an essay, there are several steps that will help ensure a winning essay:

1. Brainstorm ideas—look at the topic and write down some ideas relating to it.
2. Outline—this helps put ideas into a coherent order.
3. Write a good introduction—you want to capture the reader's attention from the start.
4. Write coherent, strong content throughout your essay.
5. Make sure the conclusion brings it all together.
6. Write what you know. Your voice will come through if the essay is about something you know, love or care about.

What does my scholarship cover?

Full V. Partial

College scholarships come in two basic types :

• Full Scholarships : A Full scholarship covers all the bases: tuition, books, living quarters, and may include a stipend for expenses.

• Partial Scholarships: A Partial scholarship, on the other hand, only covers some expenses such as tuition or books, but the rest is left up to the student.

Be sure to be clear on what is covered by any scholarship offered and then take the money and run. You may need to apply for several scholarships to cover all of your expenses.

Who should I ask to write my letter?

Who to Ask to Write a Letter of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are not popularity contests—they are an important part of the application process. Ask the people who will be able to paint you in the best light to write these letters. Pick someone who knows you well and can write intelligently about you and your academic achievements.

Teachers, guidance counselors, club advisors, coaches and religious leaders are all good sources for recommendations. However, be sure that the person you ask has the ability to write a good letter and the time to get it completed by the deadline.

Is it a good idea to look at scholarship essay samples when I am working on my own essays?

Sample Scholarship Essays Can Be a Source of Inspiration

Reviewing scholarship essay samples can be very helpful when preparing to write scholarship application essays of your own. A great source of scholarship essay help can be learning from examples of successful essays. You can even get inspiration about what not to do in your own essays from poorly written sample documents. Looking at other essays can give you ideas about the best scholarship essay format to use for your own documents. It can also be reassuring to see proof that other students have been able to successfully complete the task of composing scholarship application essays!

What types of topics do scholarship essay use?

Typical Topics for Essays

There are as many different topics for essays as there are stars in the sky. Scared? Don't be. While applications can ask for an essay about anything, there are some old stand bys that tend to be used more than others. Here are a few popular ones:

• Statement of Intent essays ask applicants why they want to attend X University or major in Y.

• Role Model essays ask about a person who influenced the choice to study X or helped to mold the applicant.

• Personal Growth is an introspective essay that asks the applicant to discuss an event that helped to shape him/her.

Always read the essays requirements carefully and be sure to follow the instructions to a T.

What should I provide to the person I ask to write my letter or recommendation.

Providing a Good Base for a Good Letter

Are you having someone else write a college admission letter for you? After a person has agreed to write a letter, be sure he or she is provided with all the information needed to write an effective one. A copy of the requirements for the letter is important so the person knows what to write about. Here are some important requirements:

• Transcripts to show overall academic achievements.
• A resume to help to paint a full picture of you and your achievements.
• A copy of one of your college essays to give the writer some insight into your dreams.
• An addressed, stamped envelope to mail the letter in.

Once the letter is sent, remember to send a thank you note to the person who wrote the letter for you.

What do I do during my senior year?

Senior Year, the First Half

Even at the beginning of your senior year, the end is near. Time will fly and graduation day will be here before you know it. It is important to remain focused and committed to your college search so you don't get left behind. In the first part of your senior year, you should:

• Retake SAT/ACTs to try to improve scores.
• Try to visit as many colleges that you are interested in as you can.
• Request applications and pay careful attention to deadlines (circle dates on a calendar).
• Start narrowing down the list of colleges that interest you.

How can I protect myself from losing my application information?

The Dog Ate My Scholarship

No excuses!

Not only do you absolutely have to complete and submit your scholarship application on time, you should absolutely keep a back up or copy of every application you complete. We all know that emails and electronic submissions can be sucked into the electronic space time continuum, so protect yourself.

Keep back ups and then, after you follow up to make sure your application was received, if there was a problem, you can resubmit your application in a timely fashion.

This can also be a great time saver because in many instances, the questions and applications themselves will be very similar. Cutting and pasting can be much speedier than filling out each individual application - hopefully they will even use a universal scholarship application form and make your life that much easier!

When should I start applying for scholarships?

Preparing for College

Preparing for college is not a weekend event; it's a process that takes about two years. Like preparing for battle, getting into college takes time, organization, and dedication. Here are some tips to help you prepare:

• Set a time line and stick to it.
• Always check and double check what's been done to be sure everything actually was done.
• Don't wait till the last minute, hoping for a winning lottery ticket.
• Be organized
• Be motivated.
• Be dedicated.

What belongs in a letter of recommendation?

What to Put in a Letter of Recommendation

Most teacher and coaches write so many recommendations they could do them in their sleep. But, if a person asked is unsure of what to put in a letter, there are some basic pieces of information that should be covered.

• The context of association (how long this person known you and in what way).
• How your performance is now.
• What standards you have met and surpassed.
• Preparedness to achieve and excel at the next level.
• It is also always good to add an altruistic element to the letter to add a personal touch.

Some schools may ask for other specific information, but these basics should always be covered.

How do I keep my focus at the end of my senior year?

No Senior Slump Allowed

We've all been there - the end is near and the future lies on the horizon. The senior slump is that stretch of time after the New Year, before graduation, when a student's focus begins to slip.

Although you may have already been accepted to your school of choice, this is an important time to stay focused to win scholarships.

During this time, you should apply for as many scholarships as you can, compare financial aid packages from the colleges you have been accepted to, and finalize your choice of school (notify those you plan to decline).

This last stretch is also when you need to submit your FAFSA form (January to March). After all this is complete, then you will be able to sit back, enjoy the summer, and get ready to be a college student.

Can I turn in a scholarship application late or incomplete?

Due Dilligence

It may seem like a simple concept, but you must complete your scholarship applications in a timely fashion - and when we say complete, we mean every field should be complete and every supporting document should be on hand.

Don't think that a creative or great essay will overcome the tardiness of an application or the missing transcript or recommendation. Don't think that a spelling error won't disqualify you and don't think that a hand written scholarship application is going to meet the requirements of the program.

Remember, there is a lot of competition for this funding and if you make your exclusion simple, an evaluator will take advantage of that. The good news is that Scholarship applications are very similar to the competitive job market, so if you can master this task, you are well on your way to a successful career!

Should I apply for every scholarship?

Don't Apply if You Don't Apply

You may be tempted to send your academic resume and qualifications and essays out to every scholarship program out there. The shot gun method (shoot everything and hope something falls) may create some results for you, but you really should only apply for the scholarships for which you are truly eligible.

If you do become more selective, not only do you have a better chance of getting the scholarship, but you can really focus your energy on creating top quality essays and scholarship applications for the scholarship program you want.

What do I do during my junior year?

Junior Year Tasks

Junior year is so close to graduation that you can start to smell it. Now is the time to start thinking about what that means in terms of your future and your education. The time has come to start thinking about what colleges and what majors are of interest to you. You should also start researching scholarships and grant opportunities and send away to for information for the programs that seem appropriate or of interest to you. This is a gathering stage and you should be collecting information about different options so you can ultimately apply for scholarships to fund your education.

Entrance exams such as SAT and ACT tests should be taken at this point. Remember to keep grades up and try to become involved in extra curricular activities (it looks good on an college or scholarship application).

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Jolyn Wells-Moran