Strategies for Applying for Scholarships

Getting Ready

1. Start gathering material on yourself and build a file or resume.

Things to include:

  • Grade point average, class standing, courses selected (know area of study)

  • School and community activities (high school and college)

  • Honors or awards (high school and college)

  • Hobbies or interests

  • Work or volunteer experience; special or unusual learning experiences

*Talk with someone about what you've done. Many times what you think is insignificant couldbevaluable on an application

2. Continue to examine and refine your personal goals.

  • What are your educational and career goals?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
  • What are your three best characteristics?

3. Research scholarships for which you can meet the eligibility requirements.

Utilize these resources:

  • Search for scholarships using the scholarship search engine on the National Scholarships, Fellowships, & Programs website.
  • Use other online databases to find scholarships
  • Peruse the books in the Honors Lounge (Click here for a list of the books available.)

*Narrow your focus to the scholarships you are willing to spend time on. Familiarize yourself with the eligibility guidelines, application requirements, submission procedures, and deadlines.

4. Contact National Scholarships, Fellowships, & Programs early in the game.

We can help you find ways to be more competitive and offer advice on your application itself.

5. Contact at least three individuals (generally full-time faculty) to act as references.

The best references generally come from instructors who have taught you recentlly, and better yet, have had you for more than one class. Check to see if they would be willing to write a strong letter of recommendation for you. Be sure to allow them at leasta month to prepare the recommendation, and be sure to let them know what the deadlines are.

References carry a lot of weight; don't take them lightly!

  • Pick references who will give you a good recommendation.
  • If you have to choose between a reference with a prestigious title and a reference who knows you well, choose the reference who knows you well.
  • Pick references who will get their letter submitted on time.
  • Give references adequate information to write a good letter of recommendation-a copy of the scholarship application, your resume, a bulleted list of things you think they might want to emphasize, etc.

Beginning the Application Process

1. Start early.

Most scholarship applications require one or more of the following:

  • Application form
  • Personal essay
  • Copy of your academic transcript
  • Letters of recommendation

*Allow at least one month to complete the process. For some, it may take as long as a semester.

2. Complete the application form

  • It it best to obtain several copies and fill out a draft form before typing your final version.

3. Draft your essay(s)

  • Don't expect your first essay to be perfect. Allow enough time to evaluate and rewrite several times.
  • Haveprofessors, mentors, advisors, and editors look over your essays
  • Read the application aloud and check for overall sentence flow and tone.

Completing Your Application

  • Type it. Unless otherwise specified, yourapplication should be typed. Presentation is important.
  • Mail it early. Play it safe and mail your application materialsbefore the deadline.
  • Retain a copy for your records. Many essays can be used for other applications, including graduate school applications.