1. Am I being completely honest?Probably the biggest mistake you could make when scholarship hunting is being dishonest about your credentials. This might involve embellishing one’s GPA or extracurricular achievements. You may think you can get away with bumping up some numbers on the scholarship application, but nearly all programs require official transcripts to verify grades. Lying on scholarship applications could result in serious academic consequences, as well as damage to your reputation. Most likely, you would have to return the scholarship funds and possibly face suspension or expulsion. Being dishonest is never the answer; there are plenty of opportunities out there for students of all backgrounds and abilities.
2. Can I follow through with this commitment?Some scholarships are awarded in exchange for volunteer hours. Before you apply for a scholarship, make sure you are familiar with its terms and conditions. What would you have to do if you were chosen as an award recipient? Is it free money, or does it depends on you performing a service? If you know you will be working part-time at a demanding job, you may not be able to comply with the terms of the scholarship, and therefore could lose the money. If you have to travel someplace to volunteer, but do not have a way of getting there, consider: is this the right scholarship for you? As is the case with all scholarships, it is better not to go through with applying if you feel unsure. It can become messy if you are chosen for a scholarship, but cannot comply with the rules (i.e., maintain a certain GPA, provide documentation, volunteer the minimum of required hours). Scholarships are commitments that are not to be taken lightly.
3. Is my heart in it?On certain scholarship applications, you may be asked to write about a sensitive and very specific topic, such as cyberbullying, forest fires, a serious disease, etc. These are topics that are particularly compelling to applicants who have been personally affected by them. You might be able to write a stellar essay about cyberbullying because you are an exceptional writer, but how close to your heart is this topic? It may be a great scholarship opportunity, but one that is not relevant to you. Maybe there is someone else out there who is more passionate about this opportunity. This is where ethics comes into play; listen to your intuition when deciding if a scholarship is a good fit for you. The primary principle to bear in mind on scholarship applications is honesty. Be truthful about who you are and what you have accomplished; nothing positive can result from lying. Next, think about whether you can give the scholarship committee what it is asking for, whether that be tutoring hours, community service, etc. Finally, reflect on whether the essence of the scholarship is in line with your personal values and experiences. Best of luck!
Tiffany Sorensen is a professional tutor and contributing writer with Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.