Applying for College Scholarships ― A Real Student’s Story
This article is a first-person account from Shravya Kakulamarri, a Rice University student and CollegeVine livestreamer, mentor, and contributor. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
In this post, Shravya Kakulamarri, a Rice University student and CollegeVine livestreamer, mentor, and contributor, discusses her experiences applying for college scholarships and provides advice for getting one.
My Scholarship Experience
I didn’t get any scholarships through the admissions process. Rice did not give me any financial aid or merit scholarships, but I did apply for external scholarships. I found one through my City Hall’s website, which I believe was called the Rotary Club Service Above Self Scholarship.
I highly recommend you look into your local rotary clubs. They exist in most major cities and have many scholarship opportunities. They offer many service-based scholarships, in particular, so if you do a lot of community service, this is a great option for you. I didn’t apply to too many other scholarships, and I didn’t get any others.
Once I got to Rice, I found several opportunities to apply for scholarships. Specifically, the Center for Civic Leadership had scholarships for community service activities that I had done in my sophomore and junior years. You’ll have many more chances to apply for internal scholarships when you get to college. Don’t worry too much if you don’t get any initially—you’ll have more opportunities later on.
Advice for Getting Scholarships
If you’re looking for a full-ride scholarship to a top-tier school, you could try to find and apply for a merit scholarship. To get a merit scholarship, you want to find something to differentiate you from other applicants.
I was looking at the financial aid website for Rice, and past recipients of merit-based scholarships have included political and community leaders, math and science competition participants, creative and performance artists, entrepreneurs, scholar-athletes, and exceptional writers. As you can see, everyone is very accomplished.
If you’re applying to some of those top-tier schools, you’re going to be highly accomplished. You want to distinguish yourself from other applicants. You want something to be unique about you. Maybe you have a completely different upbringing from many of your peers. Maybe you have a passion for a particular niche topic that not everyone else knows about. Maybe you’re a science genius, and you’ve gone on to the International Science and Engineering Fair.
If there’s something that’s your special strength, highlight it. Any time you’re trying to get a scholarship to a top-tier school, they are looking for people who are different from everyone else.
Everyone applying to these top schools is impressive—they have great statistics, grades, SATs, and extracurriculars. But scholarships are awarded to those students the schools really want to recruit. That’s their way of leading you in. They want you to choose their school over any other.
So, you should see if there’s something that differentiates you, and then emphasize that on your application. I’m not sure how many top schools give full-ride scholarships, but that would be my advice for getting a general scholarship to any school, not just top-tier ones.