Pay attention to detail.
When you are applying to several scholarships at once, it is very easy to confuse the requirements specified by each and overlook critical details. Read all of the information provided carefully. When in doubt, make a phone call. What many students fail to realize is that scholarship providers are in the business of awarding scholarships and they enjoy helping students get the financial assistance they need. Most will be more than willing to answer your questions.
Presentation, presentation, presentation.
Always type responses to essay questions. Take the time to type any responses, even those that seem informal. It can’t hurt you but it can always help. Additionally, if the application itself must be filled out by hand, use your best penmanship. No white out, smudges, smears, ketchup, etc.
- Read the essay question carefully for each scholarship. It is important to answer the question as clearly and concisely as possible.
- Be mistake-free. Grammatical errors, incorrect punctuation, illegible handwriting are all examples of careless mistakes that can cost you a scholarship. Take your time and have someone who writes well to look at your application before you send it.
Some scholarships will ask for recommendation letters to accompany or support your application. Recommendation letters should speak to your abilities and your capabilities. Follow these guidelines when you’re asked to provide such a letter:
- Give the person who will be writing the letter as much advance notice as you can. You want them at their best, too. It’s also the courteous thing to do.
- Let the writer know exactly what they need to do and provide them with a self-addressed, stamped envelope if the letter has to be sent by mail.
- Make sure the writer knows what you’re hoping to accomplish with this letter. Give them ideas about what to discuss by letting them know of recent accomplishments, extracurricular activities, awards, etc.
- Try to use people who can speak to your integrity and know you well.
- Don’t use relatives…unless your uncle is the local Congressman.
Get help reviewing your application.
Have a parent or friend review the information on your application. Plain ol’ paper isn’t yet equipped with spell check so an extra pair of eyes will help you identify any errors.
- Complete the application in full.
- Follow directions. Provide everything that’s required.
Get feedback on your essay – Help is available from teachers, the Learning Assistance Center (LAC), or the Learning Resource Center (LRC / Library).
This is critical. If you can’t find a teacher to read your essay, find an adult or even a peer who will. They can tell you if it is cohesive, if the piece directly addresses the essay question, and if a judge will like it. Scholarship judges are people just like your parents and teachers (sometimes students forget this), so any feedback that they can provide you with is an invaluable resource.
Follow the submission rules precisely.
- Complete the 2017-18 FAFSA as soon as possible.
- Be timely. A deadline is a deadline. If a scholarship has a deadline of March 15th, guess how many applications come in that day? Don’t get lost in the crowd. Stay ahead of the curve and apply early.
- Don’t eliminate yourself because you sent your application in late or with missing information. Scholarship providers typically outline very specific submission rules and it is important that you follow their guidelines. If you are unsure about anything, call or write the Foundation Office at 815-835-6329, in advance. Don’t wait until the last minute.