5 Tips for Finding and Winning a Scholarship

Euphoric winner watching a laptop on a desk winning at home

Finding and winning scholarships can be an extremely difficult thing to do. There are thousands of scholarships out there, but sometimes they don’t seem to fit right. Or, they’re open to hundreds of thousands of applicants, or you simply don’t get them. You want to find the best ones for you, manage your time well, and hand in your application as efficiently as possible.

Here are some tips on how to do just that:

Apply to more than one scholarship

This seems like a given, but it’s true! There are plenty of shiny scholarships out there, you know the ones. Offering a hundred thousand dollars, or full-ride to your university. Let’s be real: the chances of getting those types of scholarships are incredibly low, because everyone is applying for them (not saying that you shouldn’t apply for them, just that you shouldn’t have your hopes up).

However, the smaller scholarships, the ones that offer maybe five hundred dollars, or a thousand dollars… Those ones aren’t so shiny, and less people will apply for them, especially if they’re local. This means that you have a much higher chance of winning them. They may not be as attractive as the ones that say they’ll pay for your entire education, but they definitely add up.

Manage your time effectively

I cannot stress this enough: please keep an agenda or a daybook or a calendar on your phone. Just something that will remind you of your schedule. Not only will it help you take note of deadlines (please write down all of your deadlines), it’ll also help you see when you’re free enough to write those applications, or when you need to start prepping for them. The deadlines for scholarships tend to fall around autumn and springtime, so it might be a bit hectic in those months. You’ll want to make sure you’re prepared and on top of your game. 

Use your time effectively

We’ve talked about managing your time effectively, but how do you use it effectively? This sounds simple, but make sure you read all of the requirements before you start your application process. There is no worse feeling than spending an hour on a scholarship application only to find that you don’t actually qualify for it.

Another thing: create a resume that includes your interests, clubs, extracurricular activities, awards, accomplishments, the whole shebang. Many scholarships are based off of the aforementioned things, and it’s way less mental work to copy and paste something that you’ve already written than to write it down fifty separate times. Make sure to include the beginning and ending dates of your activities as well as well!

Choose the right people as your references

You won’t always be able to read what your referees write about you, but if they can’t confirm what you’ve written down in the application, it can be extremely detrimental to your chances of winning the scholarship. You want someone who knows you well, and can confirm your activities, i.e. a coach if you’re applying for a sports scholarship, a music teacher or conductor if you’re applying for a music scholarship, etc. Make sure to communicate to them what you’re applying for so they can write the most relevant reference letter.

Do the digging

As for finding scholarships: there are plenty of resources online (like 99scholarships) whose main goal is to help people like you find the right scholarships. I would also suggest making an appointment with your school counselor, because they’ll have knowledge on local scholarships. If you’re part of any extracurricular activities or volunteer somewhere, those places may also have something to offer. Finally, check your parent’s workplaces, because they might have something for the children of their employees.

Applying to scholarships is a daunting task, and it can be hard to find the motivation to even start looking at them. However, if you don’t want to start your adult life with a bunch of loans, they are definitely the way to go. There are plenty of organizations out there that want to support your education, and the only way to find them is to start looking for them.

Bonus tip: start early. Give yourself plenty of time to research. Take a break ever so often. Remember to breathe. This is a stressful thing, because it could possibly be determining your future, and you want to give yourself as much time for it as possible. The deadlines will likely come at you like an oncoming train, so giving yourself enough time to deal with said train is one of the most important parts of this process.

Other than that, I wish you the best of luck. Keep your eyes on the goal: university, flying high. You’ll be winning soon enough. You just need to get through this first.