Hey guys, check out this awesome guest post today! Pyper Barnes is a Finance Major who recently graduated from the University of Alabama in 2016. She decided to start a scholarship website, Weird Scholarships, to spread awareness on scholarship opportunities. This is just one way she is helping others limit student loan debt.
College is expensive! It is no secret to anyone. After all, a quick search can provide painful details on national student loan debt as well as the college tuition rates. These days, it seems that no one can cover the cost of tuition on their own. With that being said, everyone is trying to look for ways to help pay for it with various forms of financial aid such as federal student loans or grants. One source of financial aid is a scholarship from a private or charitable organization. They are proving to be the ideal method to paying your way through college.
The best part about a scholarship is that it is free money to go toward your tuition and fees for college. With student loans, you must pay back what they lend you with interest on top of it. This should have students scrambling to win scholarships.
Scholarships are actually pretty competitive in most cases. Sure, there are some that they give out a dime a dozen, but getting a scholarship that will cover a good percentage of your education costs is not always easy. The good news is that we have 6 tips on winning scholarships that will help you to have a competitive edge over many people who are blindly applying.
#1 – Start Early and Keep Track of Deadlines
The first thing that you absolutely must do is make sure that you plan. Don’t wait until the last minute to turn in everything that is required for the scholarship application. Most scholarships will have a hard deadline, and if you don’t get everything in on time you may miss out on the opportunity. When you are starting your planning for scholarships, make sure that you jot down everything that you will need. Many require writing samples or essays, letters of recommendation from previous teachers, and copies of transcripts. These can sometimes take a little bit for you to get it all into your hands and ready to send off. Starting early will ensure that you are fully prepared.
#2 – Apply for Multiple Scholarships
Understanding that scholarships are very competitive is important, and with that being said it may be a good idea for you to apply for more than one scholarship. Sure, there may be a certain scholarship that really stands out to you. It is okay to go for what you want, but at the same time you need to make sure that you don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. You can even win multiple scholarships, covering even more of the cost of your education.
#3 – Focus on Your Strengths, But Touch on Weaknesses
When you are completing your application, it is not uncommon to get questions like “What are your strengths?” and “What are your weaknesses?” Don’t simply write that you are task oriented and pay attention to detail, and definitely don’t claim to be a “hard worker.” These are strengths that almost everyone claims, even if they don’t possess them. The decision makers for the scholarship want to see what makes you stand out among the others. Let them know what makes you unique, but also give them an insight to one of your weaknesses. They know not everyone is perfect, so don’t try to seem like it. They actually appreciate someone that can admit their flaws.
#4 – Consider Who Will Be Viewing Your Applications and Essays
If you are going to school for a particular degree, whether it is in medicine, arts, forensic science, etc, consider who is going to look at your application. They want to be impressed by your application, and this will give you a better chance at winning the scholarship. Make sure that you complete your application with this in mind. One way to do this is to use your knowledge of your field when completing the application and doing your writing sample.
#5 – Be Aware of Eligibility Requirements
Each scholarship is going to have a different list of eligibility requirements. The key is to make sure that you look into all of these requirements to make sure that you meet them. For instance, some scholarships may only be offered to first time college students entering from high school. They won’t even consider anyone else for them. By ensuring that you are qualified for the scholarship, you will avoid wasting time on the ones that you wouldn’t be eligible for.
#6 – Follow the Instructions to a T When Submitting Your Application
Lastly, make sure that you triple check that you have followed all of the instructions. This not only helps them to see that you were prepared and paid attention to even the smallest details, but also ensures that you don’t disqualify yourself by leaving something out. Chances are, if you mess up on the application due to lack of following directions, they will probably count you out for the scholarship.
#7 – Get “Weird” with your Scholarship Search
While most of the time winning scholarships requires exceptional academic performance, this is not the case for a certain subset of scholarships, so don’t sell yourself short. There are countless scholarships out there that are only provided to a specific niche. These types of scholarships are referred to as “weird” scholarships, or niche scholarships. Long story short, if you fit in a certain scholarship niche than you have a better chance of success with that scholarship application. A common example would be a single mother scholarship, but there are plenty of other niches to check out outside of this example. The secret is to start searching internally for your unique niche, and move that search online for relevant scholarships!
Using these tips, you are guaranteed set a path towards securing a scholarship. All of these tips tie into one big, main idea: increasing your chances of success. At the end of the day, the effort put into finding a scholarship outweighs the effort put into paying off a student loan in terms of benefits. The hassle of interest is avoided, and the entire repayment ordeal is nonexistent. It is foolhardy to settle for student loans when there is free money for the taking. Get a start on your scholarship search ASAP!