How to Win College Scholarships ~ The cost of a college education in America has skyrocketed. With several college graduates now leaving with crippling debt, it’s more important than ever to secure proper funding before starting college.
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One of the most effective ways of doing so is by earning scholarships. A popular form of financial aid, scholarships help reduce the cost of acquiring a college education and can help you leave with reduced or even no debt.
But winning college scholarships isn’t easy. With costs rising, there’s more competition than ever to win a scholarship.
This is especially true when considering the number of individuals applying for college is now hitting an all-time high.
If you’re in need of a college scholarship, it’s important that you take the right steps so that you can win them.
By doing so, you can save yourself from acquiring massive amounts of debt by graduation.
Knowing where to begin is the most important first step that you can take when starting to apply for scholarships.
By having an understanding of where to start, you can increase your chances of winning a scholarship.
Don’t know where to begin? Don’t worry.
We’ve put together a comprehensive guide below to help guide you as you look to win the perfect college scholarships.
Keep Good Grades
One of the most important—and obvious—considerations to make when applying for college scholarships is that you have to keep good grades.
Though scholarships exist for different reasons, almost all factors in your grades as a deciding factor.
In other words, even those applying for an athletic scholarship can benefit from having the best grades of all those applying.
Other scholarships are decided by academic merit alone. For example, several local and national scholarships are awarded to individuals who graduate top of their class.
Valedictorians and Salutatorians, in particular, can win a great number of academic scholarships.
However, without maintaining proper grades, many of these opportunities will close. For this reason, don’t slack off in your studies—even in your senior year.
Though it may be tempting to zone out in the final stretch of schooling, you’re going to want to make sure that you keep your grades up.
You can strengthen your application even more if you manage to maintain good grades in tougher classes. Those who can report A’s in AP classes, for instance, boast incredible scholarship applications.
If you can get even higher A’s, that’s all the better. The higher you can get your grades, the better you will look to those issuing the scholarship.
Good grades tell them that not only are you bright but that you take your studies seriously.
And that’s something that businesses and organizations want to see. They want to know that their largesse is helping benefit those who will make the most out of their college education.
That’s why—as you’ll notice—that once you receive scholarships, you’re going to have to maintain your grades even in college.
By showing them that you can keep good grades in high school, you’re telling scholarship issuers that you have what it takes to succeed at the next level.
And let’s be honest: people want to know that their money is being put to good use. Who wants to pay for someone to go to college only for them to flunk out?
For this reason, make sure that you’re keeping your grades up in high school so that you can increase your chances of winning a scholarship.
Know Your Opportunities
As important as they are, however, grades aren’t the only consideration individuals make when awarding scholarships.
For example, several individuals qualify for minority scholarships that feature a less-competitive candidate pool.
Let’s put it this way: if you’re applying for a scholarship that is awarded to the top 15% of students in your state, the number of people competing against you is certainly quite large.
If you’re looking to win a scholarship for the top 15% of gay students in your state, however, the competition has suddenly narrowed. This increases your chances of winning.
For this reason, it’s important to understand all of your scholarship opportunities.
Though you’re never guaranteed a scholarship simply based on your race, sexual orientation, or another identifying factor, you can increase your chances of winning by applying to those with the right opportunities.
The good news is that several categories of scholarships exist.
From minority scholarships to those associated with certain religions, you’re certain to find a scholarship that fits your “group” somehow.
Keep in mind, however, that you’re still going to have to maintain stand-out grades and credentials even within that group.
The advantage of applying to these scholarships exist only in a two-fold manner:
First, you’ll be able to expand your scholarship opportunities, increasing the odds that you’ll win something and increasing the amount of total aid you could potentially receive.
And second, you’ll be able to narrow down the competitor pool so that you only have to compare against a limited number of individuals.
It’s this more selective competition that’s likely the biggest advantage that you will get from applying to specific scholarships.
If you have a particularly-moving experience based on your identity, this can be a particularly-strong way to win a scholarship.
For example, if you’re applying for a scholarship set up for first-generation African-American college students, experience working with disadvantaged black youth would look good on a resume.
Or, if you’ve managed to keep stellar grades despite coming from a household with no one having a college education, you may look like a more motivated individual.
Make sure that you highlight these positive qualities in your scholarship application.
By showing not only how the scholarship is relevant to you—but also how you exemplify the role—you can increase your chances of winning a scholarship.
Just bear in mind, however, that some of these scholarships come with a catch.
Those applying for LGBTQ scholarships may find, for instance, that the scholarship requires them to be an ambassador if they win. This could mean coming out and potentially being recognized by individuals you don’t know.
Make sure that you read and are comfortable with the conditions of any scholarship before accepting it.
Try for Athletic Scholarships
As noted, not all scholarships are created equally. By this, we mean that not all of them prioritize grades.
You may find, for instance, that you can get an athletic scholarship if your ability is good enough.
And if you can earn a trip to a big-name program, you could be looking at the all-expenses-paid college experience.
If you’re looking to boost your chances of winning one of these scholarships, you need to start early.
If you’re a football player, for instance, you’re going to want to make sure that you put together a stellar high school career.
This means that you don’t want to wait until the final game of the season to have your breakout performance.
By playing at a high level all year, you can put yourself on the radar of many college coaches.
And let’s be real: not everyone is going to get to go to
That being said, if your goal is to get a free college education, excelling at athletics can be a powerful way to do that.
In your junior and senior years, you should expect to be getting some pretty
For this reason, make sure that you start early—don’t wait until your season year.
Though if you put together an impressive performance you may get noticed, it’s always better to start early. The longer you stay on a coach’s mind, the more they’re likely to think about you.
This means that you’ll be more likely to score a college scholarship.
Do More Community Service
Remember when we said that scholarships aren’t all about grades anymore?
That still remains true. But there are more ways than one to impress those issuing the scholarship.
You don’t have to play a sport, for instance.
Instead, you may choose to establish a track record of helping your local community.
This can be an especially effective option for those who volunteer in the field they wish to major and win a scholarship in.
For example, volunteer internships in your field of study can make you a much stronger applicant for certain scholarships.
Sometimes, however, it’s all about community service. Consider for a moment that you’re looking to apply for a nursing scholarship.
Yes, a record of academic excellence will certainly help your chances of winning your nursing scholarship.
However, you would also benefit if you can show a history of helping others.
Because a compassionate nature is essential to being a good nurse, you can up your chances of winning by showing a history of community service.
Do you frequently volunteer at your local homeless shelter? Do you work for your local humane society and now want to get a veterinary scholarship?
By staying involved in the field of your choice, you can increase your chances of landing a scholarship.
But start early. The more involved you are, and the more results you can show, the better your chances of receiving a scholarship will be.
If you can prove, for instance, that you’d helped over thirty cats escape euthanasia by finding them a new home, you are much more likely to win a scholarship than someone who can’t show a history of anything.
Keep this in mind as you start thinking about winning scholarships.
Develop a carefully-tailored plan by choosing activities that will make you look good but that also gives you relevant insight into the field you wish to study.
Practice Your Scholarship Letter
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If you’ve ever applied for a scholarship, you know one thing: you’re going to have to write a letter.
Typically, this letter explains who you are and why you would be a good fit for the scholarship.
If writing isn’t your forte, this can seem like a nightmare.
This is especially true when you realize that your response will be used to decide if you’re worthy of thousands of dollars in aid.
The truth is that your words are going to matter. The better case you can make for yourself, the better you’ll end up doing.
For this reason, make sure that you practice writing scholarship letters. You’re going to want to feel comfortable explaining why you deserve so much money.
To do so, be sure to clearly connect your history of academic excellence and community involvement with the scholarship’s goals and purposes.
It’s important that you establish this connection even if you think it’s clear.
Most important of all, however, make sure that those judging your application have an understanding of just who you are. You want your personality to shine through the letter.
In other words, you don’t want to be discarded as forgettable at the bottom of the pack.
Make sure that your letter is clear with enough personality to catch someone’s eye.
If you’ve got a unique experience that relates to the scholarship or to your field of study, be sure to elaborate on it.
If you can distance yourself from your competitors in a good way, you’ll dramatically increase your chances of winning the scholarship.
The Bottom Line
Applying for a college scholarship can leave you with headaches. Cut down on the hassle by making sure that you’re qualified to be approved ahead of time.
By following the tips above, you can increase the likelihood that you will win a scholarship of your own.
Make sure that throughout the entire process, however, that you keep up good grades while presenting a professional image.
The more complete your look, the more someone will be willing to fund your education. By proving to them that you have a history of success, you can be sure that you will stand out from the rest.
In doing so, you can start cutting down on your debt by winning more college scholarships.