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5 Tips You Should Know When Applying for Scholarships

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Alexander Oddo in a CollegeVine Livestream. You can watch the full Livestream for more info.


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Looking for some tips to apply for scholarships? These are enormously helpful in funding your education. So, if you’re in the market to win some awards for college, read on for our tips on how to secure college scholarships.


1. Apply for as Many Scholarships as Possible


To start, you should apply to as many scholarships as possible. Financial aid is not guaranteed — you never know what’s going to happen. So, you shouldn’t worry about financial aid right now because scholarships, in contrast, are guaranteed money.


Scholarships can reduce your financial aid packages. The way it will work is if you get $20,000 worth of scholarships, your financial aid package may be reduced by around $10,000. You’ll still come out better off in the end, but it is something to keep in mind.


2. Start Early


You want to start applying early — as early as possible. Some of these scholarship applications do take a lot of time. It’s almost like applying to college all over again. You don’t have to wait until senior year to start applying for scholarships. In some cases, you can even start freshman year, although for many you won’t be eligible until around junior year. But that doesn’t mean you can start compiling a list, looking into scholarships, keeping track of deadlines, and so on.


Remember, too, that you want to knock out some of the easy ones early. Many have fall deadlines — even when you’re working on midterms. But they can be due all year long. That’s why you’ll need a system for keeping track of deadlines, such as an Excel spreadsheet.


3. Focus on Niche Scholarships


It’s best to apply to a lot of small awards rather than big awards. Play to your niches and go for the scholarships that have small applicant pools. For example, if you apply for a scholarship that’s only available to people in your town, then the pool is already going to be really small. Only a handful of people are eligible anyway, and then the pool of people who actually take the time to apply will be even smaller.


You could even be the only person who takes the time to fill out the application! Or, you could be one of just a couple people. The point is, if you put in the effort and have the passion, you could very well see results. 


Keep in mind that there’s no limit to how many scholarships you could apply for. So, you really can apply to as many as is possible, and while that might impact your financial aid package, it won’t ultimately harm you. 


4. Proofread and Polish


Gear the application to your audience


Remember that many of your scholarships are niche, so it’s important to really tailor your application to the scholarship. It’s similar to a job — your resume and cover letter can’t be copied and pasted. You may encounter similar prompts, but each application and essay should be unique.


A lot of the time, you may be able to repurpose certain sections, but you do need to still tweak these portions to make them specific to the particular award. Never just copy and paste and be done. You always want to gear your application to the audience.


Read and review


Of course, you should also be proofreading your applications, as well as the prompts. Putting an effort into scholarships can translate into results. This does take time. You want to make sure to plan for many rounds of revisions. Proofread again and again, and double check your eligibility for scholarships. 


When it comes to doing these revisions, you should get a second pair of eyes. It’s always good to have an advisor help you out when it comes to these revisions, someone who’s read scholarship applications before and knows what the organizations are looking for. Second opinions can go a long way.


5. Stay Organized


The last step is that you want to stay organized with your scholarship search. Because you’re applying for so many awards, the deadlines can get confusing, as can the requirements. You need to make sure to have a detailed list of all the deadlines and requirements. 


It can be as simple as an Excel doc or Google spreadsheet. You can even set up alerts on your phone. This will help you avoid missing deadlines or failing to send necessary materials.


Scholarships are a fair amount of work, but they’re also rewarding. Staying on top of these five tips will help you secure the awards you need to pay for your education.