13 Tips To Make Your Scholarship Application Stand Out

When it comes to available scholarships for college, all students are applying for the same reason, and that’s to have scholarship money, which can help them pay their tuition fees. Going to college is no joke, and it certainly isn’t cheap. That’s why many students tend to work part-time jobs or find other side hustles that can help them save up for their college tuition fee. Some also take out student loans as one way of paying for college and hopefully finish their four-year course. 

What Is a College Scholarship? 

A scholarship is a financial aid award created to help a student pay for their degree. Scholarships can be a one-time check or renewable. Scholarships significantly differ from student loans as you won’t have to repay the said money provided by an organization.

There are two ways a student can claim their scholarship. They can either receive the money directly in the form of a check. In other cases, the scholarship money is given to the student’s school. If there is any difference in the money owed for a room, board, tuition, and other fees, the student will have to pay directly to the school. However, if the given scholarship money is enough to cover all college fees, the excess fund will be refunded to them. 

Where Do Scholarships Come from? 

Scholarships mostly come from sources such as charities, clubs, businesses, organizations, the government, or certain individuals. There are also universities and colleges that offer financial assistance in the form of merit aid. So, make sure to ask the schools you’re planning to apply to and see if they provide any merit aid and how you can apply for it. 

Who Can Qualify for Scholarships? 

Some students tend to assume that scholarships are only for people who have a 4.0 GPA. But the truth is every scholarship has its own set of criteria. Some scholarships are granted based on the need.

There are others also in which you need to be a member of a particular club or organization, or you need to study a specific course so the sponsor can grant you the scholarship money. Other times, certain scholarships are also given to students who are residing in a particular town. 

Regardless if you’re doing well with your academics, there’ll always be a scholarship that will work in your favor. So, if you’re really determined to be granted a scholarship, don’t stop applying until you find one that suits you and your needs.

Tips To Make Your Scholarship Application Stand Out

Getting accepted for a scholarship opportunity is one of the greatest privileges you can ever earn in your student life. When you’re a scholar, you won’t have to worry about your college finances, as your scholarship will have everything covered until you graduate. But the thing is, hundreds and thousands of students are all hoping to get accepted for a scholarship. This means you need to strive harder to ensure your application will stand out among the rest.  

All scholarships, despite being sponsors, also have their limit on finances. Thus, scholarship committees choose a particular application that obviously stands among the hundreds and thousands of applicants. They want to make sure that the student they’ll be granted with the scholarship truly deserves this opportunity. While this may sound too overwhelming and downright intimidating, you can use this to challenge yourself in creating a great scholarship application.  

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Fortunately, there are tips available that can help you create an outstanding scholarship application. Read on below for the thirteen tips for submitting a standout scholarship application.

1. Apply Only to Scholarships Where You’re Qualified

You may be thinking that sending an application for any scholarship opportunity will increase your chances of getting it. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Scholarship applications that don’t meet even one of the criteria will end up getting rejected, and the committee wouldn’t even bother giving it a second look. In that case, all your efforts in putting your application together will only be put to waste. 

So, before you apply to an open scholarship slot, be sure to thoroughly read the criteria and requirements that they’re looking for and see if you’re a good fit. This will prevent you from creating a solid application only to find out you never qualified in the first place. You can always consult your school counselor, and they’ll guide you in the right direction.  

You can also use online scholarship databases to filter out the scholarships you’re not fitted for. It will only show the list of scholarships to which you are qualified to apply. It’ll also consider your academics, interests, and other necessary backgrounds when generating this list. You can guarantee that you won’t be wasting any more time.

2. Be Prepared and Organized

Just like when you apply for a job or a college application, preparedness and organization are crucial. Whether you’re applying for a merit-based scholarship or athletic-based scholarship, you need to provide numerous documents as part of the requirements. Some of these may include transcripts, letters of recommendation, and most importantly, an essay.  

If you want to be fully prepared and organized, don’t wait until the last minute before deciding to have all these documents together. Make sure you’re updated on all scholarship deadlines so you wouldn’t get behind. You can prepare a list of all your extracurricular activities, voluntary involvements, transcripts, multiple languages that you can speak, and other essential achievements.  

Some students also strive to learn another language to enhance their application, which is a good idea if you want your requirements and achievements to stand out among the rest. It’s not too late to start learning a new language to enhance your background. 

There are online language tutors available such as preply.com, that can help you learn different languages through their offered courses. Once you know two to three new languages, you can keep on updating this list throughout the year to make sure that all information in your application is recent and accurate.  

3. Pay Attention to Details

As mentioned earlier, each scholarship opportunity has its own set of criteria and requirements that must be followed. It may range from documents, deadlines, and mostly, the type and format of essay they want from you. If you want your application to stand out, pay attention to all details and do precisely what they ask.

Even a tiny misunderstanding of their instructions can make or break your application and could end up with your application on the rejected pile. So, to maintain your scholarship etiquette, always follow their requirements.

4. Do Some Research

This type of research is not meant for your essay in which you need to research for it to be perfect. Research is about learning all about the organizations behind the scholarships that you’re applying for. When you research, you’ll know their mission, goals, and what they look for in an applicant. This way, you get to tailor each of your applications that could target the organization’s exact needs. 

Most of the time, it’s during the essay writing where everything gets granular. The organization reads hundreds to thousands of essays every day, so you have to make sure yours can compete enough with the rest of the pool. You can do this by researching and writing to them clearly and concisely about who you are as a student and as a person and why you deserve this opportunity.

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5. Avoid Reusing Essays

Every scholarship opportunity will vary, including their requirements. For this reason, you must never reuse the scholarship essays that you’ve submitted for other organizations. Even if you try changing a few words, the judges can still tell that your submitted essay was not personally made for them because it will sound more generic and general. Your essay must reflect who you are and what type of goals are driving you in life.

6. Highlight What Makes You Unique

Most of the scholarships are based on the applicant’s originality and individuality. If you want to stand out and show them that you’re unique from the rest, highlight everything you think makes you unique.

You can put down your interests, perspectives about life, and any life experiences that made who you are today and made you special. Don’t limit your experiences to school activities or senior year parties. Put down the things that you can say about yourself that the rest of the applicants will not be able to say for themselves.

7. Know Your Audience

The key to making your essay more tailored and personable is when you exactly know who your audience is. You will be talking to the scholarship committee that’s offering the scholarship. They can be an organization, business, religious group, or an individual.

Know everything about their mission, charities, donations, and other details that can help you. Most of all, figure out their definition of an ideal candidate and how you can fit into that ideal picture.  

However, be careful not to cater exactly as how they expected you to be. It’s not good to lose your uniqueness so that you can fit into their ideal applicant. Instead, use your strengths and determine how they can be relevant to the candidate that they need.

8. Be Passionate

In creating your scholarship essays, keep in mind that an essay is best made when your passion and personality inspire it. Avoid putting general sentences, and instead, share more about your personal experiences, stories, feelings, and lessons that you’ve learned in the past.  

For instance, you want to pursue a healthcare degree because your parent’s illness inspired you to help other sick people in need. Focus on telling them that the hardships you went through molded you into the type of person you are today.

9. Request Letters of Recommendation

One of the requirements that the committee will ask from you are letters of recommendation. When asking for letters from your coaches, teachers, or advisors, make sure to ask them in advance for at least four weeks. Give them a lot of time to create a well-written recommendation letter for you.

To make it easier for them, you can provide them with a file filled with personal information, awards, activities, leadership involvement, a well-made resume, and details about the scholarship you’re applying for. Even if some scholarships don’t require these letters from you, you can still attach this as an additional relevant document.

A well-written recommendation letter can boost your potential of becoming their ideal candidate and give them a better impression of you.

10. Proofread Before Submitting Anything

Before you submit your essay, letters, and other documents, make sure to proofread every single thing. Check if everything was written correctly with no grammatical and spelling errors. See to it that all the questions and blanks were answered correctly.

Make time to read your essays loudly, as this will help you spot on the clunky sentences in your essay while reading it through your head. It’s also best to have someone else read your documents for you so they can catch on any mistakes you’ve missed.

11. Be Professional

To be professional is something that you don’t only do when applying. It’s something that you’ll have to do for the rest of your life. Pay attention to the tone of your writing. As much as possible, it should be as if you’re talking to a professional in a formal setting, not your classmate through Facebook or Snapchat.

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While slight humor can be good as part of your opening lines or grab their attention as much as possible, avoid using sarcasm, emojis, and slang terms. These could automatically turn them off about you, and they may perceive you as a person who never takes anything seriously.

12. Keep Everything Neat

When filing a paper application, neatness is very much necessary. Avoid having excessive erasures, and be sure not to crumple your paper or spill it with your coffee. Instead, put your documents in a big envelope to keep these papers safe from dirt and wrinkles.

Your application’s neatness will also say something about you, so it’s best to keep it all tidy. Typing your application is an excellent idea, but writing them in pen is also acceptable. So, work on which option is best for you.

13. Send A Thank You Note

After you’ve applied for your scholarships, don’t forget to send the scholarship providers a thank-you note. You don’t need to make it too formal, but a small gesture like this can go a long way.

Sending your greetings, especially a thank-you note, will show them that you’re an appreciative person and that you’re thankful for their time and attention. Plus, who knows, maybe your thank-you note will be the way to make them not forget about you.

Benefits Of Getting a Scholarship

Now that you know the tips to help your scholarship application stand out, you can start as early as today in preparing your documents and requirements for the future. Remember to apply for scholarships in the college of your choice. To give you a little more push and motivation to apply for a scholarship, here are the benefits you can reap from being granted a scholarship.

Saves You from Student Debt

Many students, even up to this day, graduate from their college with huge loan debts on their shoulders. The thought of repaying these huge debts tends to limit their education. Moreover, it also creates pressure on them.

That’s why many students couldn’t pursue their dream careers due to the lack of finances to pursue their dreams. Meanwhile, if you’re granted a scholarship, you won’t think about student loans or any financial barriers. You can pursue your dream school, course, and career. When you have money for schooling, you can follow anything you want to be in the future.

Improves School Performance

Since your scholarship takes away all financial problems, you can now focus more on becoming an outstanding student, gaining more knowledge, and securing higher grades. You’ll have more time to develop your skills, enhance your knowledge, and participate in organizations that can improve your school performance.

Gives Career Advantage

To be granted a scholarship is such an immense privilege. Not only will this make it possible for you to pursue your career, but this will also give a better impression to your future employers about you. Some scholarships are very competitive and so good that you can even write them down in your resume as part of your accomplishments. This helps you stand out among the rest of the job applicants in the future.

How Can Scholarship Money Be Spent?

When your scholarship money is given directly to you in the form of a check, you can spend it on anything. However, you need to be wise in spending your scholarship money, and as much as possible, avoid using this to splurge on your clothes, concert tickets, parties, or video games. Remember that this money is solely for your college expenses.

That means you can only use this for school-related fees such as books, housing, tuition, allowance, food, and sometimes, computer and software. 

Receiving your scholarship money can vary from each sponsor. Sometimes, the money is distributed through installments. Other times, it’s given in one chunk before the school year begins. There are also others who give your scholarship money every mid-semester.

The Bottom Line

Preparing for your scholarship application may be one of the most challenging experiences you’ll have as a student. Still, it’ll be a significant life achievement once you’re chosen as the winner out of the hundreds of applicants.

Your scholarship is vital to help pursue your career by covering all tuition fees and other school expenses. Now that you know how to make your scholarship application stand out among the rest, it’s time you get out there, put your best foot forward, find scholarships fit for you, and start applying!

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