Winning the scholarship

Searching for and finding scholarships is only the first half of the process. You still need to apply for each scholarship you are trying to win. Applying for scholarships can be time consuming and takes dedication and motivation. But the thousands of dollars you could receive makes the effort worthwhile. Below are some hints to help you apply for and win scholarships.

Be proactive.

No one is going to track you down to give you a scholarship; you need to do the legwork yourself. So when you find awards with eligibility criteria that you can meet, contact the provider and request a scholarship application packet. Whether you have to request the application via email, phone or by sending in a self-addressed stamped envelope, do it. There's just no other way to get the ball rolling than to be proactive and assertive in requesting information for yourself.

Be timely.

Almost all scholarship providers set deadlines, and you MUST adhere to them. Make sure you have all materials submitted before the deadline. If the scholarship deadline is approaching and you have not yet even received the application packet that you requested four weeks earlier, follow-up with the provider and request the application packet again. You do not want to miss a deadline, as most scholarship providers do not consider late applicants.

Be organized.

Good organizational skills can really pay off - literally! Keep your applications ordered by deadline date and give yourself plenty of time to complete them and send them in well before the due date. Keep letters of recommendation and transcripts on hand so you don't have to obtain new ones every time they are required for an application. Make copies of your completed applications before sending them in, and file them in folders labeled with the deadline date and the mailing address and phone number of the scholarship provider. Call before the deadline to see if your scholarship application was received. If it got lost in the mail (the postal service is not perfect!), you still have an extra copy you can send in.

Be persistent.

The scholarship search process doesn't just happen overnight. You must be diligent about looking for new scholarships to apply for. Plan to spend several hours each month reviewing the scholarship programs with deadlines approaching, preparing application packets, and getting the applications in the mail on time. And then the cycle should begin again - finding scholarships, sending away for application information, and applying in an organized, timely manner.

Be creative.

Try to think different. Your application should stand out and have its own face. Great idea, by the way. Get a picture of yourself. A school picture is perfect. Anything smaller than a wallet size headshot, will do. Place you picture in the front inside cover (on top of the application) in the lower left hand corner. This simple action helps to put a face to the person, for the scholarship committee deciding who receives the awards. Getting noticed is as important as being prepared and organized.

Be positive.

Finally, believe in yourself and in your chances of winning a scholarship. Hard work and time spent on the scholarship process will pay off eventually. Keep your chin up and think about how great the reward will be if you can land even one of the scholarships you're trying for! After all, your education depends on it!

Pay attention to details.

Give yourself a time to think about you and pay attention to details of your life. Here is an inspiration: “At high school I was one of the only two girls in the robotics club… nerdy I know. The other girl was my best friend and we were sick of the boys’ stupid robotic car / maze obsession. We decided to make something that would appeal to little girls rather than boys – somehow we ended up ripping the guts out of a teddy bear and making him move in response to touch. Well the guys at the competition seemed to like it because my friend and I both won $500 scholarships to Canterbury Polytechnic. Funny thing is that I have used that money to learn Chinese.” Kira Nolston. Maybe you did something others thought weird? Think about it, it could be your benefit.

Be careful.

Realizing the potential of possible scams, avoid using scholarship/financial search organizations that make guarantees of receiving a scholarship. There is no such thing as a guaranteed scholarship. Don't procrastinate: Meet all application deadlines and make sure you complete all required steps. Most scholarship organizations attribute incomplete applications as the primary reason why students do not meet eligibility requirements.

Be Yourself

Last, and probably most important, be yourself. It may be tempting to hype yourself up on the application and in your essay, but all of the fluff will be blown away if you get called in for an interview. After all, the judges will be evaluating your application, not you, so it is in your best interest to infuse your application with as much of “you” as possible. The interview should merely confirm what the judges already thought about you, not change their minds entirely.

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