Strategies for Presenting Yourself Well on Scholarship Applications
from the National Scholarship Providers Association
General Application Tips:
- Have multiple copies of paper applications in case you make a mistake and must start over.
- Save copies of all on-line applications in a scholarship folder on your computer.
- Make a checklist of what you need to have for the application before you start filling it out.
- Make a copy of your entire application so that, if your submission is lost, you can quickly send another copy.
- Put your name on all of the materials: every page of the essay, recommendations, photos, etc. in case part of your application is misplaced by the scholarship committee.
- Be consistent with the names you use: Use the same first name, not nicknames, and be consistent with your last name if it is hyphenated.
- If the application asks for a GPA, class rank, or other specific information, fill in the information, do not write “see transcript” or “see resume.”
- If you want to be taken seriously, consider setting up a separate email account for college and scholarship applications and inquiries Be sure to check it regularly. Do not use a cutesy or suggestive email address—this will affect how seriously your application is viewed.
- If a required attachment will be sent from another source, such as a high school, college, recommender, or financial aid office, it is up to you to make sure the information has been sent.
- No substitutions! If an item is requested, particularly for a need-based program, provide it. If you don’t understand the request, ask. In competitive programs, the missing or substituted item could tank an otherwise strong application.
- Read your application packet and ask yourself, “Would I give an award to this person if all that I knew about them is the information presented in these documents?”
- Don’t let a parent fill out the application.
- Your application package represents the entire and only picture of you the selection committees have. Always type (or neatly print using black ink) your application. Your application must appear neat and professional.
- Proofread your application. Pay particular attention to any spaces you have left blank. If the answer is zero, write in 0 rather than leaving a blank space. Blank spaces may cause your application to be rejected.
- Have at least one other person review your whole application package, including your personal statement or essay. Find the most qualified person to proofread for you.
- Show you have worked—either with substantial responsibilities in the home or in summer/school year jobs. Work/employment responsibilities build character as much as many other activities.
- Provide evidence that you have made something good happen. That’s leadership. If you have made a difference—in whatever way—share it.
- Start early! Leave plenty of time to triple-check to make sure all directions have been followed and that you are turning in the best application possible. Scrambling leads to mistakes. Use a calendar to keep yourself on top of things. Early applications are often greatly appreciated.
- If a photo is requested, use a suitable color head shot. Be appropriate.
- Be sure to follow guidelines. For example, if the application asks for a self-addressed stamped postcard to receive confirmation, don’t include an envelope instead.
- Always send a thank you note to the donor. If appropriate, continue to keep the donor informed of your progress throughout the year.
- Show evidence that you believe in something apart from the certainty you hope to make a million dollars. What are you doing, or what do you hope to do, that will make the world a slightly better place?
- Never think that any accomplishment or activity is too insignificant to be mentioned. If you’re proud of it, passionate about it, or think there is something even slightly interesting or unique about it, include it! Now is not the time to sell yourself short!
- Spell out abbreviations that may not be generally recognized.