Applying for college is never an easy process for anyone, but if you want to get a scholarship then succeeding is even harder. It is important that you push yourself as much as possible in every aspect of your life, because extracurricular work and activities such as sport and music are all taken into account alongside your essay samples and main application. However, being a great applicant alone will not be enough to get you a scholarship place at college. You need to understand the exact criteria for getting a scholarship for the college you want to go to, and ensure that you can meet all of the necessary requirements.
How do scholarships work?
It’s important that you understand how they work if you’re going to apply for one, although they are very straightforward. Scholarships can usually come from two different sources: private companies, and college institutions themselves. Overall excellence and consistent effort are usually the primary criteria regarding your own qualities, but many scholarships have other requirements, such as being from a low-income or ethnic minority background. Make sure you know the criteria so you don’t waste your time applying for something for which you’re not even eligible. A scholarship works like a grant, in that you don’t have to pay it back, and may be to cover college costs, living expenses or both.
How do I improve my chances?
The main thing to bear in mind is that doing the bare minimum is never going to be enough, as you have to stand out from the crowd. Know the criteria, make sure you meet them all (even the minor ones), and exceed them in every area that you can. Think of it in the same way that you would think about applying for a job: they know what they want, they have many different applicants, and they are going to choose the one that best meets the needs of their organization.
All of the applicants will have a strong academic record so you need to set yourself apart from the rest. Extracurricular activities are often a great way to do this, but make sure you write why these activities are so important in your application. If you’ve been captain of a school sports team, don’t just tell them that but tell them the skills that you developed. Part-time work and community volunteering or fundraising could also help you succeed in your application. School grades don’t measure your personality or future success, and the college will want you to prove that you’re a fantastic all-rounder.
How do I write a good scholarship essay?
The scholarship essay is an essential part of your application and you should give it the time and effort that it deserves. Think of an idea, and then view some essay samples to get a feel for the structure and format that you would like to use. Don’t use samples for ideas though, or your essay won’t be original, but looking through for some inspiration that could spark an idea of your own is fine. Whatever the theme and content of your essay, make sure you choose an approach you are comfortable with and that you feel you can do well with too. Do make sure that you proofread it carefully and that it is consistent with your application as a whole.
The only way to ensure that your essay is totally original is to write it yourself. You definitely shouldn’t be drawn into any scholarship scams that you may come across; it’s cheating for one, and often they take your money and give you nothing in return.
Maria is writer and an educator. She is a contributor for education portal, Scholar Advisor. Maria is an expert in essay writing, paper proofreading and student life.