Every day, scholarship awarding bodies give out lots of scholarships to students who cannot afford to pay for their education abroad. But sad to say that these scholarships go back unclaimed. The reason is that most applicants do not know how to prepare an application that will ensure that they win a scholarship.
If this has been your problem, you have come to the right place as we are going to explain the different ways you can prepare a scholarship application that will earn you a scholarship to study anywhere.
Step 1: Start Searching for Scholarship
You cannot find what you don’t look for, right? So it should come as no surprise that the first step in this guide on how to apply for scholarships is that you need to go out (or go online) and search for them. You can do this by searching with Google or registering with blogs and websites that publish scholarships often.
The first thing to do when beginning your search is to decide which types of scholarships you qualify for and which ones are right for you. While a huge range of scholarships exists, they can generally be split into two; need based and merit-based.
Need-based scholarships depend on your or your family’s ability to pay for college and are only awarded to candidates who need a little extra help financially. Merit-based scholarships are awarded to applicants based on their achievements or abilities. They may be focused on academics, art, or athletics. There’s also a large range of situation-based scholarships, such as ones for women, minorities, journalism majors, or gamers. Both need and merit-based scholarships may be offered by your college, private organizations, or individuals.
Once you’ve come up with a general idea of which scholarships you might qualify for, you need to figure out where to look. The first step is to talk with a high school guidance counselor or the financial aid office at your university. Both will have experience finding scholarships that apply to your circumstances, while the financial aid office will also be able to tell you about university scholarships (you can usually find the most up-to-date information by checking out the financial aid or admissions section on the university website, too).
For some merit-based scholarships it’s also worth speaking to your teachers, e.g. if you’re looking for scholarships for French majors, chatting with your French teacher could be a great way to find them. If you have a knack for sports, it might also be helpful to speak to your high school coach! Universities with top-notch sports teams are usually willing to shell out a fair amount of money to get talented players to attend their schools.
Besides university-sponsored scholarships, there are thousands and thousands of privately-funded scholarships out there and various ways of finding them. Just like we mentioned above, the first search method is to sit down and discuss your options with a high school guidance counselor or a financial aid representative. Alternatively, a simple Google search generally turns up a fair amount of results as well.
Step 2: Create a Calendar
When it comes to how to apply for scholarships, timing is very important. It’s a good idea to start applying as soon as possible…those deadlines really sneak up on you! From the start, make a list (whether in an Excel sheet or the vintage way with pen and paper), with the scholarships you’d like to apply for, their due dates, and their required documents and essays. Make sure that you start your scholarship applications well in advance so that you’re not rushing to gather documents and materials.
Step 3: Find Out the Scholarship Requirements
Not all scholarships are created equal and it’s important to research the specific requirements for the scholarship you’re applying to. Luckily, scholarships are generally straightforward so everything you need will be listed out right in the description.
Here are the most common documents and materials needed for a scholarship application:
Scholarship Application Form
It might be obvious, but a scholarship application without the application isn’t much of a scholarship application at all. Make sure that you fill out the application portion thoroughly and double check for errors.
The essay portion of the application is your chance to shine. Even if you’re not a strong writer, it gives you the opportunity to express your personality, ideas, and opinions. You only have a certain amount of space and scholarship sponsors want to see how you’ll use it. Check down below for tips on how to turn your essay from a headache into your strong point.
Most scholarships require Letters of Recommendation from personal or professional references. When requesting a LOR from professors, teachers, guidance counselors, or personal sources, make sure to give the person recommending you at least four weeks notice. The last thing you want is a rushed recommendation or a stressed-out recommender. For many students, asking for recommendations is the most stressful part when it comes to how to apply for scholarships.
Copies of Transcripts and Diplomas
Even if a scholarship isn’t merit-based, it may require a copy of your high school, or most recent college, transcripts and your high school diploma. You can easily get transcript copies through your high school or university website or through the Guidance or Registrar’s Office. Occasionally, scholarship applications will also require your test scores from the SAT or ACT. Prepare yourself by keeping these test-taking tips in mind.
Financial Aid Information
Some scholarships, especially if they’re need-based, might require you to submit your FAFSA form or sometimes even your parents’ tax and income information along with your application.
An up-to-date and modern resume can make a big difference when it comes to applying for scholarships. Along with your essay, you should view your resume as one of the central pieces of your application—where you can highlight your skills and accomplishments. If you’re looking to take your resume writing skills to the next level, try out these tips.
Sending a portfolio can significantly strengthen an application, especially for art and design-related majors. If you don’t have a portfolio and feel that you might need one, don’t sweat it. It’s not that difficult to get started if you take it step-by-step.
Step 4: Rock the Essay
As we mentioned above, the essay can make or break the application, so it’s important to give it the time and effort that it deserves. Even if you’re lacking confidence when it comes to your writing skills, following a few simple tips can help take your essay to the next level.
Essay Tip #1: Read All the Instructions Carefully
So many amazingly written essays get tossed aside simply because the applicant didn’t take the time to read the directions and respond properly to the prompt. If you take anything at all from this guide on how to apply for scholarships, do yourself a favor and make sure you understand what you need to do before you pick up the pen.
Essay Tip #2: Give Yourself Time
When you give yourself sufficient time to write the essay, you’ll be less stressed, have more time to think through your ideas, and have more time for proofreading. Rushed essays are more likely to be filled with grammar and spelling errors and usually end up being pretty boring. Plan your time out beforehand.
Essay Tip #3: Find Your Own Path
When you apply for a scholarship, you’re responding to the same writing prompt as hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of other applicants. How can you make your essay stand out from the rest? What can you bring to it that nobody else can? Set some time aside simply to think over your strengths and to brainstorm ways to make your essay stand out.
Essay Tip #4: Create an Outline
An outline can help ensure that your essay is fluid and follows a logical sequence of events. Outlines don’t always need to be detailed; even just a basic one can help you organize your ideas!
Essay Tip #5: Liven It Up
Nobody wants to read a boring, lifeless essay…much less scholarship committees, who are reading hundreds of applications! Don’t be afraid to put your personality into your writing and let your passion show through. Big, fancy words aren’t necessary either and often do more harm than good.
Essay Tip #6: Proofread, Edit, Repeat
Taking five extra minutes to proofread your essay can make a world of difference. We’re all human and, whether we like it or not, we all make mistakes. Having the correct spelling and grammar will make your essay appear more professional.
Step 5: Submit Your Materials
Now that you’ve gathered all of your documents and materials, the next step on how to apply for scholarships is simply to turn them in! Some scholarships should be submitted by mail while others are submitted online, so be sure to check the requirements. If you requested any Letters of Recommendation, be sure that the person providing you with the recommendation is aware of the deadline. Also, provide them with either the email address or a stamped envelope with the correct destination address on it.
Read also: Top Tips For Getting a Scholarship
Step 6: Wait!
The last and final step in our guide on how to apply for scholarships is simply to wait and, realistically, there’s not much else you can do. Most scholarships will let you know when you can expect to hear back by. Some only contact the recipients.
After submitting your application, take a deep breath and relax. Keep a positive attitude and hope that your hard work paid off!
If you follow these tips, you will be able to prepare a solid scholarship application that will help you land your dream scholarship to study abroad.
Some Scholarship frequently asked questions and answers
What’s the difference between partial and full scholarship?
Partial scholarships do not cover all the expenses. In most cases they usually cover tuition fees only, while the scholar takes care of the living expenses. Full scholarship on the other hand covers expenses like tuition, accommodation, flight and living cost. The scholarship provider will state what your scholarship covers.
What are the best sites that publish scholarships?
Can I win a scholarship?
Yes anybody can win a scholarship. All you need do is follow the tips we have provided on this article and you will get your scholarship.
Must I apply for admission into a school first before I apply for scholarship?
Well, some scholarship awarding bodies demand that you hold an offer from a university or college before submitting your application. All these will be stated on the scholarship requirements. So make sure you read through it carefully so you don’t make mistake.