While a college education might be a good investment, it certainly doesn’t come cheap. In fact, the average cost of a four-year degree is a whopping $122,000, an amount that’s infeasible for many students.
Luckily, financial aid and scholarships can help ease the shock of that eye-popping tuition bill. But competition for that money can be fierce, and standing out from other scholarship applications can take a lot of time, dedication, and hard work.
Follow these seven insightful tips to learn how to win scholarships.
1. Keep a List of Your Accomplishments
Keeping a resume with important information about yourself, from your interests to awards you’ve won to your extracurricular activities, is an essential step in how to earn scholarship money.
Not only can it help you identify which scholarships you should apply for, but it can also be a useful tool when asking for letters of recommendation.
By providing teachers and other mentors with your resume, you can make it much easier for them to write you a personalized recommendation in a timely manner.
Keeping a resume can also help you further down the road. Having an updated list of your accomplishments can be a great tool if you’re planning to apply for internships or jobs during college.
2. Find Scholarships Catered to Your Skill Set
Whether you’re an outstanding athlete or have an impressive GPA, there will undoubtedly be a scholarship that matches your skills.
Along with academic- and athletic-focused aid, there are also minority scholarships, community service scholarships, and more. In fact, considering the huge amount of scholarships available trying to find the right one can be intimidating.
The more specific the scholarship requirements, the more likely it is that fewer people will be eligible to apply. By thinking of what things make you unique, you can find and apply to scholarships that you have a better chance of receiving.
3. Know How to Search for Scholarships
From checking scholarship sites to buying scholarship listing books, there are a variety of ways to find scholarships, and it’s crucial to take advantage of all of the resources that are available to you.
Remember to use your network of family, friends, and teachers—there’s a good chance that they’ve heard of scholarships that may be a good fit for you.
Your high school counselor can also be a great resource, and they’ll undoubtedly have advice based on the experiences of past students.
4. How to Win Scholarships by Staying Organized
The sheer number of scholarships out there can be overwhelming, and understanding financial aid can be complicated. But by creating a schedule and staying organized, you can set yourself up for success and increase your chances of winning scholarships.
Different scholarships will obviously have different deadlines, and some are due in the fall rather than the spring. So keeping an updated calendar with those due dates can keep you from forgetting to submit something on time.
That calendar can also be used to plan out how many scholarships you want to apply to every week or every month. This can be a tool that will help you prioritize applications based on whether something is due immediately or a few months down the road.
It’s normal to want to procrastinate and put off things that seem tough, but sticking to a schedule can keep you accountable. Setting small goals can keep you focused and prevent you from feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work there is to do.
Staying organized can also help you save time and ultimately apply for a higher volume of scholarships.
Many applications will require you to submit the same things—like transcripts, essays, and letters of recommendation—so keeping everything in one place can speed up the application process.
5. Small Scholarships Can Add Up
While your instincts might have you immediately applying for large national scholarships, don’t forget to explore your local and state options.
There will likely be fewer candidates for scholarships sponsored by smaller organizations and clubs, which improves your chances of receiving the scholarship.
And while the amount of scholarship money you receive might be less than what you’d get from a national scholarship, those funds will start to stack up and help chip away at your tuition bill.
Scholarship money can also be helpful when you’re trying to pay for school necessities like textbooks, which can start to add up across semesters.
6. Double Check That You Aren’t Skipping Steps
When scholarship applications get complicated, it can be tempting to skip the more complicated steps—maybe you’re hoping that you can send one letter of recommendation instead of two, or that you can write a 150-word essay instead of a 250-word response.
Thinking that is a huge mistake. It’s essential to complete applications and answer everything exactly as it’s being asked. Be meticulous as you apply and make sure you’re meeting all requirements.
Don’t cut corners or assume something will be overlooked, and be sure to supply everything that’s being asked for, even if it’s something as simple as a photo of yourself.
7. Don’t Rush Your Application
It may sound obvious, but it’s important: Don’t speed your way through any scholarship applications. Take your time to complete each one and ensure you’re putting your best foot forward on the application.
It may seem simpler to rush so you can apply to as many scholarships as possible, but quality can be more important than quantity. Providing thoughtful answers can help you stand out and win scholarships for college.
By reading back through your application before you submit it, you can correct any typos, add clarity, and polish your writing. Taking the time to make that extra effort can pay off in the end—literally!
Start Applying for Scholarships Today
Applying for scholarships can seem like a tall task, but by following these seven tips on how to win scholarships, you can stand out from other applicants and set yourself up for a successful college career.
For more information on making the most out of your degree—and for enjoying your life at college—check out our blog.