One of the most common questions we receive at Fastweb is how to increase your chances of winning a scholarship. In light of that, we put together a list of tips to help you achieve success.
Many of these tips may sound like common sense but, unfortunately, common sense isn’t always that common.
Start Your Search
Start searching for college scholarships as soon as possible. The sooner you start, the fewer deadlines you will miss and the more time you will have to complete your application.
Utilize Free Scholarship Matching Services
matches your personal background profile with a large database of scholarships, showing you every award you’re eligible for. Whenever a new award is added to the database, Fastweb will send you an email if it matches your profile. The Fastweb database is updated on a daily basis, which means you’ll have lots of opportunities to find scholarships to apply for.
When using a scholarship matching service, answer all of the optional questions. Students who answer the optional questions tend to match twice as many scholarships as students who answer just the required questions. The optional questions are there to trigger the inclusion of specific awards.
Scholarships aren’t just available on the Internet, they’re pretty much all around you. For example, look for local awards posted to bulletin boards near your high school guidance counselor’s office or college’s financial aid office. You can also find local awards posted at your public library near the jobs and careers section.
Open a Book
Scholarship listing books can also be helpful in finding opportunities. Before relying on a book, however, check the copyright date. About 10% of scholarships change in a significant way each year, so a book that is more than a year or two old is no longer useful.
Read the Paper
The coupon section of the Sunday newspaper is also a good source of information about scholarships, since many national companies advertise there. Many popular brands, like the Coca Cola, Tylenol, Discover, and Dr. Pepper sponsor scholarship programs.
Apply like Crazy
Apply to every scholarship for which you are eligible, and only
to those for which you are eligible. There’s an element of luck, not just skill, in winning a scholarship. So the more applications you submit, the greater your chances are of winning. It gets easier after your first half dozen applications, since you’ll be able to reuse and adapt your application essays.
Don’t skip small scholarships. Many students dislike small awards because they think they aren’t worth the time, but the smaller scholarships are easier to win because fewer students apply. The amounts add up, and they add lines to your resume that may make it easier to win big.
Speak, then Write
Students also dislike scholarships that require an essay because many don’t feel confident in their writing skills. If you have trouble writing essays, try recording yourself as you answer the essay question out loud, then transcribe the recording. Most people speak at about 200 words per minute, but write or type at 30 to 60 words a minute. The act of writing can interfere with the flow of thought whereas answering the question out loud also yields a more fluid and passionate essay.
Personalize Your Essay
Keep it interesting, since a trite essay will be boring. How did you affect other people and how did they affect you? Keep in mind that the person reviewing your application will be reading many essays and you want yours to keep their attention. Try to stand out and be memorable in a positive way.
Proofread your application before mailing it. The selection committee will be evaluating you by the way you write and an essay filled with spelling and grammar errors will give a bad impression and signify that you didn’t care enough to take the time to review your application for errors.
Make a photocopy of your application before mailing it. Send the application by certified mail, return receipt requested or with delivery confirmation, so you will have proof the application was received on time. That way, if anything were to happen with the mail, you would not be disqualified for missing the deadline.
Keep in mind that applying for scholarships is a numbers game. The more you apply for, the better your odds of winning. Unfortunately, it’s difficult at times and you may feel discouraged because not everyone is guaranteed to win one. Scholarship winners will tell you that it’s vital to never give up on applying—because then you’re absolutely guaranteed to never win one.
However, the good news is that people really do win scholarships through our site! Need proof? Check out our Wall of Fame
, which features recent Scholarship Winners.
Do you have any other tips on how to win a scholarship?