The cost of education is rising and student population is increasing along with it. Such an increase in demand means college scholarships are getting much harder to obtain. According to Mark Kantrowitz, the author of ‘Secrets to Winning a Scholarship,’ only 10% of students who apply for a scholarship will get one. So how can you become one of the few winners? Here are ten steps to help you beat the application game and land the scholarship you need:
Start by browsing the Internet to search for available scholarships from colleges around the world. You can even subscribe to websites that give information about scholarship openings to get regular updates, such as scholarship-positions.com or scholars4dev.com.
Familiarise yourself with the requirements needed
Every college has different requirements, so take the time to study the precise conditions where you’re applying. Much of this information is available on the hub sites from the first step, but don’t forget to visit the website of each colleges to familiarise yourself with all the requirements and ensure you have the latest information.
Though each institution has its own conditions, most colleges share some basic requirements for documents you will have to produce, such as:
- School certificates
- Test scores (especially language courses if you’re a non-native English speaker)
- Scholarship forms
- An essay or statement of purpose (SOP)
Get all your materials together
Make sure you have all the materials your chosen college wants to see and prepare them neatly, in a clean folder. Don’t forget to take copies of everything. Remember, you will need all these materials to hand when you start your application.
Do not overlook even the most trivial documents – the majority of colleges can afford to be very strict about their application procedures. Failure to have your papers ready could cost you a scholarship.
Complete your application
Once you have your materials ready, you can start completing application forms. Before you start, make sure you read the notes associated with the form and any guidelines. You don’t want to be rejected simply because you used a blue pen instead of a black one, or something equally silly.
Make sure you complete the forms correctly and on time. If you come across something you don’t understand, contact the college and ask for guidance. Don’t guess
Do not fill in your forms with dubious information or false claims. Concentrate on the task to avoid errors, stains and correcting fluid marks. Write all your information clearly, correctly and properly.
Write a compelling essay
Many applicants ignore the importance of scholarship application essays, yet the essay or statement of purpose is one of the things that most increases your chance of success.
When preparing your essay, pick a subject that you are familiar with and spend time gathering your ideas. Frame the core message carefully and plan your subheadings accordingly. Make sure you perform thorough research: this means a lot more than re-wording a Wikipedia page. Open your essay with a captivating lead to grab the attention and interest of the committee member who handles the application.
Remember that you are one of hundreds (or thousands) of students sending scholarship applications to each college, each of whom has similar exam scores, activities and other statistics to recommend them. Your essay can make the difference between being just another applicant and being accepted.
Submit your application early
Don’t just complete your application and dump it in a drawer for later. There are thousands of applicants vying for the same scholarships you are pursuing. Early submissions increase your chances of winning. Get your application in before the committees are sick of reading them!
Try different scholarships
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. In other words, don’t just apply for one or two colleges and hope you’re accepted. Getting a college scholarship is very challenging, so you can hedge your bets by applying to as many appropriate colleges as possible. Most experts recommend applying to between five and ten scholarship programs per month, spending a few hours on the process regularly to generate positive results.
Don’t restrict yourself
If you want to increase your chances of getting a scholarship, don’t restrict yourself to one or two locations. Scholarships are available from colleges worldwide. When you look beyond the frontiers of your own country, your chances are multiplied.
Don’t be desperate lest you get conned
As competition for scholarships increases, so does the number of scams. Remember to keep your head: don’t hand out your personal information to every scholarship site you come across online without checking their background. The more desperate you get, the more dangerous your pursuit of a scholarship becomes.
Many Internet fraudsters operate bogus websites claiming to be sponsors of million-dollar scholarships. Be careful. If you read something that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Stay away.
For example, if you’re told to send cash for a guaranteed scholarship offer, don’t send a dime. Such offers only come from scammers. No one can give you a 100% guarantee for a college scholarship.
Patience is one of the important virtues you can adopt when applying for college scholarships. A lot of students stop after a week or a month of struggling. Don’t stop trying; keep going – your acceptance might be just around the corner!