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Scholarship Application Tips

Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson, we will explore a few helpful tips and hints to help students fill out college scholarship applications. We will discuss specifically how and where to apply as well as tips for the ubiquitous scholarship essay.

Scholarships

If you are in high school and planning to go to a university or college, there is a good chance you have heard of scholarships, and an equally good chance your parents or teachers are encouraging you to apply for some.

That's because college in the United States can be expensive--really expensive. In fact, depending on where you go, your yearly costs could easily run into the five figures. For someone who has likely worked hardly anything other than a minimum wage, part-time job, this can be a scary prospect.

The good news is there are ways to help you pay for your college, and scholarships are an excellent way.

Basics

A scholarship, for your purposes, is essentially free money. The only thing you have to do is spend time and effort filling out the application, many of which require some form of an essay.

The types and forms of scholarships vary greatly--simply typing ''scholarships'' into a search engine can yield a bewildering array of responses. This lesson will provide a few helpful tips to finding scholarships that you can win and ways to make your applications stand out.

Keep Applying

You should apply to as many scholarships as you physically can. There are so many scholarships out there; you will probably run out of time before you run out of scholarships for which you qualify.

Don't apply for whatever amount you would like paid for; apply to as many as possible even if you are confident of winning certain ones. Hundreds, often thousands, of applicants apply for each scholarship and nothing is guaranteed.

Look High and Low

Many students apply to the school they are attending and perhaps a few state or national organizations for scholarships and leave it at that. This is a mistake. There are so many scholarships out there from niche organizations and causes. Get online and research scholarships for some of your interests - you may be surprised what you find.

Apply Local (and Small)

Many of your local civic organizations (think rotary clubs, Kiwanis clubs, etc.) sponsor small scholarships that can provide needed funds. These scholarships will likely receive fewer applicants than more visible state or national scholarships with larger prizes.

The same thinking can be applied to all scholarships you find where only a few thousand dollars are given. While it won't be the only scholarship you will need, it can still help and you will have a better chance of winning if there are fewer applicants.

Don't Be Intimidated

Many scholarships require a short essay that can cover a wide range of topics. But some require longer essays or even more than one. This can be a lot of work for a prize you may not get, and these longer applications discourage some applicants.

Don't let that be you. Just as with the smaller prizes discussed above, more work means fewer applicants. It may take you a bit longer, but you will have a better chance of winning the scholarship.

Submit Early

Try not to send your application materials in at the last minute. There can always be issues with the mail (or email), and giving yourself plenty of time to correct any mistakes that get made is important.

Essays

By this point in your high school education, you've probably written more essays than you ever cared to. Unfortunately, you are probably going to have to write even more in college! So, what's a few more to help you pay for your time there?

Most scholarships require some form of essay. Essays for scholarships often cover your ambitions for college, your life, or sometimes ask you to touch on how the organization offering the scholarship has helped you.

Regardless of the topic, here are a few helpful hints to make your essay a winning one.

Be Original

There are lots of stock essays on the web that show students how to write a scholarship essay. These are not only boring, but are also not specific to you.

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