Winning a scholarship is an excellent way to get free money for attending college. Some scholarships may be worth many thousands of dollars. And just think how good winning that money would be for your education.
College scholarships can pay for tuition fees, room and board, course material, and books. But wanting a scholarship and knowing how to win a scholarship are two different things.
How can you increase your chances of winning a scholarship? How can you secure more than one scholarship to make getting your degree cheaper? In this article, you’ll find the seven best scholarship-winning secrets.
Why Winning College Scholarships is Vital
Let’s face it — going to college is expensive. So, any extra money you get will reduce the financial burden. Many scholarship winners find that they avoid the burden of student loan debts. Also, winning a scholarship may mean that you don’t need to work while at college.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that the average cost of attending college is $27,357. But that means that without scholarships and grants, it can cost over $100,000 to get a degree. Of course, it’s cheaper to attend in-state public colleges than private ones. But, any scholarship money or college grants are going to be useful.
Winning financial aid to attend college can make higher education affordable for many students. Official data shows that, depending on financial need, students can get between $33,260 and 12,840 in free education money.
Related reading: All you need to know about Pell Grants.
7 Secrets: How to Win Scholarships
How can you increase your chances of winning college scholarship money? If you’re a non-traditional student, what winning tips can help you land a scholarship? Here are seven ways you can impress scholarship judges and win that all-important scholarship.
1. Spend time applying for scholarships
Increase your chances of winning a scholarship by applying for many. The more scholarships you apply for, the better chance you have of being successful. But applying for scholarships takes time. Remember, scholarship money can be worth as much as a part-time job. So, start early and apply for as many as you can.
2. Have realistic goals to win a scholarship
There’s no reason to doubt your chances of being a scholarship winner. After all, someone must win the money. Why not set yourself goals of regularly applying for scholarships? For example, you could apply for three small scholarships every week. Then once or twice a month, apply for a larger one.
According to one source, nearly $3 billion in free tuition money goes unclaimed every year. Don’t leave scholarship money on the table — some of it could be yours.
3. Make a stellar first impression
Your application needs to stand out if you want to win a scholarship. The scholarship committee evaluates many applications, so yours needs to make an instant impression. The first way to make a great impression is to ensure you meet the requirements. This could be financial need, GPA, or interests. Second, you should use flawless grammar and not make spelling mistakes. Third, follow the directions to the letter. If you have a send a 350-word essay — make sure it’s precisely that.
Another scholarship winning tip is always to complete any optional requirements. Taking the time to do the additional work shows your willingness to “go the extra mile.” That may be just enough for you to win the scholarship.
Top tip to win a scholarship: Make a list of your best traits, interests, goals, and extracurricular activities to include in your essay.
4. Make your scholarship essay stand out
Your essay can make the difference between winning a scholarship or not. The best scholarship essays are unique to the applicant. So, make sure that you understand the essay prompt and stick to it. It’s also helpful to include information about the organization that awards the scholarship.
Related reading: How to write a winning scholarship essay.
5. Highlight your unique qualities
Use your unique life experiences to maximize your chances of submitting a winning scholarship application. One common mistake scholarship applicants make is to tailor themselves to the reader. However, it would be best if you talked about your traditions, cultures, and experiences. Also, if you’re a non-traditional student looking for financial aid, highlight your determination, the challenges you’ve overcome, and the goals you have.
Scholarship judge Mandee Heller Adler says that scholarship committees like diversity. Your goal should be to stand out and make sure the committee understands who you really are.
6. Stay organized to increase chances of winning a scholarship
Because you’re applying for a ton of scholarships, good organization is vital if you hope to win. First, create a prioritized list of all the scholarships you plan to apply for. Then make a note of the deadline, when you send the application, and when the committee plans to award the scholarship.
It’s a good idea to keep copies of all your essays. In time, you will have a fantastic resource that you can reuse and recycle for future applications.
Top tip after applying for a scholarship: Send a follow-up email about ten days after submitting the scholarship application. This is to make sure they received it and all the necessary information.
7. Don’t rush the application
It’s vital to have enough time to complete all the application requirements. Rushing at the last minute will cause you to make sloppy mistakes. It would be a shame to lose out just because the application appears rushed.
After you complete the application, leave it for a day or two. Then go back to it with fresh eyes. Read through the essay again and double-check you’ve completed all the requirements. It’s also best to get someone else — a trusted friend or tutor — to proofread the content. Their feedback can be invaluable when it comes to making your essay stand out from the rest.
How to Win a Scholarship: Your Next Steps
When you win one scholarship, you should continue applying for more. You can also continue applying for them while you’re in college. Usually, the students who win the most scholarship money are those who apply early, write unique essays, and send as many applications as possible.