Scholarship dos and don'ts
Most scholarship applications get rejected in the first stage, because many people forget one or more of the many simple aspects of filling them out. There are a few key steps involved in the process, and the main thing to remember is that the information you provide has to be straightforward, honest and relevant. Here's a list of scholarship application dos and don'ts to help you avoid some common pitfalls:
- Know, understand and even reflect on the scholarship's mission. The person who gets the scholarship is someone who fully appreciates the values set forth by organization that sponsors it.
- List ALL your relevant accomplishments. Don't be shy - remember that you're basically selling yourself and your qualifications to the scholarship board.
- Remember that leadership wins the day. If you've taken responsibility for anything, put it on your application. Whether it's been at school, work, in your community, or even in your family, make sure you show you have the drive and initiative to get something done.
- Check that you have filled out and filed everything the application requires. This includes all the little things like phone numbers, addresses and even emergency contact numbers. Any blank spaces that aren't optional signal an incomplete application - and a lack of attention.
- Be unique, if you can. If you highlight the fact that you were both chess champ and wrestling champ it'll make you stand out, and it might make for some good conversation in the scholarship interview should you get there.
- Get feedback from friends and family. Spelling mistakes and other errors will get you tossed in the reject pile immediately. They signal a lack of care and respect for the process.
- Include a resume and a transcript whether you're asked for them or not (unless there is specific instruction not to include this information). You want the judges to see all your greatest achievements and accomplishments and your resume may include some experiences that you aren't able to address in your application.
- Double check that you've filled out and filed everything that the application asks for. Include all photos, forms, facsimiles and anything else requested.
- Make copies for your own records. This includes postage receipts and date stamps, as they may come in handy later on.
- Triple check that you've filled out and filed everything that the application asks for. Edit and revise if necessary, and make sure that you're meeting deadlines.
- Forget anything, including your name and address, as well as every document that's required for your application. Leaving out even the smallest detail suggests to the committee that you're not really serious about the process.
- Forget to put postage on the application. If it's online, don't forget to click all the proper submit buttons so that you get an e-mailed confirmation of application. Make copies of postage receipts, or print off online submission confirmation pages. These documents will help if your application gets lost or misdirected.
- Forget to get an editor to eliminate all spelling and grammar errors. Misspell an important word, and you're off the shortlist.
- Spill anything on your application. Even a simple smudge is an indicator of a lack of respect, and may send your application straight to the sludge pile.
- Mail an empty envelope - you'd be surprised how often this happens!