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How to Paint Your Own Scholarship Portrait & Win

Create your own scholarship masterpiece—and win!

Shawna Newman

April 09, 2021

Learn techniques that will ensure your true colors are reflected in your scholarship applications. BONUS: Scholarships for artsy students that total more than $600,000!
How to Paint Your Own Scholarship Portrait & Win
For some high school and college students, creativity is what motivates them. For these daydreaming students, there’s a creative, right-brain strategy you can use to help you paint and showcase a beautiful, scholarship self-portrait. Students that fall into this a category may appreciate this artistic approach to creating and presenting the very best scholarship application.

What Makes a Winning Application

Unsuccessful scholarship applications often resemble a laundry list, a place where students might drop an inventory of their activities, awards, and accomplishments. While these credentials may be impressive, reading the accomplishments from a lackluster list like this will not allow the scholarship judge to genuinely see the real you. A winning application, in the eyes of a scholarship judge, feels more personal—like he/she is getting to know the person who submitted it. You want the scholarship judges to understand your unique interests, skills, goals, and values.

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Students should strive to make the committee judging the scholarship entries feel like they know the real you and can clearly pick up on the reasons you would be the ideal scholarship winner. It’s always a good idea to make your scholarship essays or the application questions reflect personalization.

Portrait of a Winner

The winning scholarship applications ultimately leave such strong impressions. They create vivid portraits of the applicants. Your application shouldn’t just recite accomplishments, rather it should depict the special student behind all the grades, extracurricular activities, and awards. Judges award scholarships to people, not to resumes. Use the power of human connection to make your application stand out. The dry, uncolorful applications with little effort often get dropped—and lost--into the application pile.

How to Paint a Winning Scholarship Self Portrait

  1. Read through all the scholarship portions and requirements before you get started.
  2. Doing this will allow you to pick up on the overall themes (if any) and begin to get your creative juices flowing. As you sift through this, write down your thoughts and common themes you see. Think about the scholarship provider and/or the organization’s mission. How does this apply to you as a person? Do your activities follow their organizational goals? If the scholarship is in honor of a person or student, how do you resemble their works or how can you honor their ambitions?
  3. Take a holistic approach to the application.
  4. Treat each component of a scholarship application as a unified whole, rather than disconnected elements. These components include the: • Essay • Extracurricular activities • Personal statement • Recommendation letters If you don't coordinate the message that each part sends, the overall impression you leave is unclear and fragmented. This can leave the judges confused and unclear on what your best self looks like. For the creative students, the ability to see, capture and understand the whole picture is part of your right-brain wiring. According to a Healthline article, the right brain is the creative side. Research shows the right brain is connected to imagination, holistic thinking, arts and more.
  5. Craft your core scholarship application theme.
Now that you’ve looked at the application and all its portions, it's time to develop your master scholarship theme. Your theme will be seen throughout the entire application. Think of the theme as the main point you are trying to communicate about yourself—the framework that puts all your activities, interests and credentials in the proper context. Application themes can be created from activities that you're passionate about, interests that fascinate you, or your career goals. This approach is a powerful way to communicate who you are. Imagine yourself as the artist behind your scholarship application. Theoretically you could take a pop art approach like Nina Chanel Abney and Andy Warhol, or a blended approach such as Vincent van Gogh and Beauford Delaney to showcase your colorful scholarship self-portrait. Remember, although these famous artists have their own style, when a viewer steps back to look at their work they can see the whole picture. Use the three tips above to ensure your scholarship self-portrait is not muddled, but rather a clear and admirable creation.

Scholarships for Artsy Students

If you consider yourself a crafty or artsy student, consider applying for these right-brain scholarships below:

Travel is Education Scholarship

Deadline: 4/30/2021
Award Amount: $500 - $1,000 The Travel Is Education Scholarship is open to U.S. students in grades 6 through 12. You must submit two-dimensional artwork, photos, or a writing (maximum one page) on the theme of "Becoming a Global Citizen". Sample topics are available on the Web site provided. You must be traveling on an ACIS tour between October 15, 2020 through October 14, 2021, in order to qualify for this award.

Paradigm Challenge

Deadline: 5/01/21
Award Amount: $100,000 The Paradigm Challenge is open to students up to the age of 18. You may work in a team or alone in creating an original and creative way to help solve real-life problems in homes, schools, communities, and/or around the world. Entries may come in the form of posters, videos, inventions, messages, community events, websites, mobile apps, or anything else that will help save lives. Additionally, you must submit a brief statement of your idea (140 characters or less) in order to qualify for this award.

Silver Medal with Distinction Portfolio Award

Deadline: Varies
Award Amount: $1,000 The Silver Medal with Distinction Portfolio Award is open to graduating high school seniors whose works have received national recognition. You must submit a portfolio of eight distinct art or written works that exemplify originality, technical skill and personal voice in order to be considered for this award. Art portfolios must communicate a single cohesive idea or visual investigation and written portfolios must demonstrate versatility and diversity in writing technique and style.

Gold Medal Portfolio Award

Deadline: Varies
Award Amount: 16 awards of $510,000 The Gold Medal Portfolio Award is open to graduating high school seniors. You must submit a portfolio of eight distinct art or written works that exemplify originality, technical skill and personal voice in order to be considered for this award. Art portfolios must communicate a single cohesive idea or visual investigation and written portfolios must demonstrate versatility and diversity in writing technique and style. Get matched and search for scholarships that fit you. Create your own free Fastweb profile to find thousands of scholarships to help you pay for college.

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