Tips for Creating Award Winning Scholarship Applications:
- Make a copy of the application. Use the copy as a working rough draft. Once it is complete, transfer the information to a clean copy, doing so neatly and legibly.
- Start early. Send the application as early as possible. This will allow extra time to make sure any missing information can be caught and submitted before the final deadline.
- Brainstorm. Take 15 minutes to write down all of your accomplishments, skills and activities on a separate sheet of paper or this guide. Think outside of what you do in school – include community, church and family activities.
- Your application is the interview. The selection committee members are reading about you, they do not know you. Your application must represent you and provide enough information for the committee to better understand your interests, achievements and future plans.
- Review the application more than once. Read and re-read the directions and make sure all parts of the application are complete. Don’t forget attachments such as information requests. If the application requests an official copy of your transcript – make sure you submit an official copy.
- Proofread – Proofread – Proofread!
- Get a second opinion. Have someone else read your application, a parent, family friend, school administrator or faculty member. Ask for feedback, you may even ask them to help brainstorm activities.
- Write a personal and specific essay. This is an opportunity to let your personality shine. Don’t simply re-state accomplishments mentioned elsewhere in the application. Write passionately in your essay and tell the committee something about you they might not realize or know by reviewing your application. Even a simple experience can be powerful if you explain its impact on your life.
- Make sure you answer the essay question. Don’t just attach a personal statement or other essay that does not specifically answer the question asked.
- Take the SAT or ACT. It’s important even if you are in running start or plan on attending community college. The SAT or ACT is another indicator of classroom achievement and helps compare your test results with other students from other school districts.
- Request letters of reference from people who know you well. Ask people who are able to share about your values, or traits or qualities that you consider worthwhile such as your compassion, drive, leadership, honesty, independence, etc. A well-written letter from a teacher or supervisor at work, who knows you very well, is more important than a letter from someone with an impressive title. Coach them to provide specific examples in the letter that tell a story about you – how you overcame a specific obstacle, your compassion for fellow students, the difference you have made in the life of another, etc.
- Watch Deadlines. Don’t wait until the last minute to gather supporting material. Also make sure to give enough notice of your deadline to your contact(s), so they have time to write a strong letter.