Five Ways to Strengthen your Scholarship Application
by Esther Ng
Are you struggling with scholarship applications? Or simply doubting your responses to those essay questions? Few applicants submit their forms brimming with confidence, with even the smartest and most accomplished students doubting some part of their application. That being said, it is completely normal for you to think that your overall application lacks a certain appeal. What you should not get into your head, however, is that your application is weak. Here are a few tips on how to strengthen your overall application.
- Get second(and third!) opinions for writing submissions and essays
Many students make the mistake of not reviewing their essay responses before submitting their applications. In most cases, students tend to rely on one particular aspect of their application that they believe is their strongest–and they tend to overlook the importance of their written skills. There is a reason why scholarship donors ask these questions and require a response, so it would be wise to think about your answers thoroughly.
The best way to strengthen the written section of applications is to have it reviewed or proofread at least twice. Send a copy to your teacher, and another to your parent or friend. You should also be mindful of who you choose to proofread your writing. Which of your friends have the strongest written skills? If your essay is based upon scientific facts, which of your teachers would be able to pick up on your mistakes?
Have your essay proofread and reviewed based on the technical side(grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc.) and another on the content itself. Needless to say, while grammar and perfect spelling is a good plus point in any writing, your content should remain the utmost importance.
- Accumulate as many volunteer hours as possible
Many scholarships require or recommend that applicants show an extensive investment in community service or volunteering. Try not to wait till a few months before scholarship season begins. If you are in high school, start accumulating these hours accordingly. It is also wise to volunteer at one chosen place for a longer period of time, rather than volunteer short hours at multiple locations. Dedication to a single charity or organization lets your supervisor get to know you a lot better and allows you to gain and hone several skills. This would be an advantage when it comes to needing letters of recommendations, not to mention your resume for the future!
- Acknowledge your weaknesses as much as your strengths
This is a common mistake not just amongst students, but working adults as well. Just like a cover letter, your written response should tell the donor a little about yourself. While many may scramble to list their biggest strengths and abilities, it would work to your advantage if you also choose to be honest about your weaknesses. Now, I’m not saying that you should press on a whole lot about your many weaknesses, but instead to acknowledge one or two.
Your application should be clear, forward, and most of all, honest. This means being transparent about your weaknesses just as much as your strengths. Donors will appreciate the honesty from a student who is, after all, just being human.
- Choose your referrals carefully
Just like in choosing the people to proofread your written response, be wise when it comes to choosing your referrals. Most scholarship applications will ask for at least one or two referrals or letters of recommendation. When it comes to this, applicants often flock to their favorite teachers in hope that their good relationship will provide them glowing letters of recommendation. The truth is, you should pick your referrals based on your academic and volunteering/work strengths.
For instance, if you are applying for scholarships for applicants pursuing STEM majors, a referral from your Biology teacher would be far more reliable than a letter of recommendation from your English teacher. While your English teacher may be able to comment on your work and classroom ethic, he/she would not be able to comment on your performance as a potential candidate in a science field.
Letters of recommendation from supervisors are also highly encouraged. In addition to your volunteer hours, your supervisor would be able to comment on your work ethic and the skills you have gained and learned outside an academic atmosphere. Choose to have two letters of recommendation, one from an academic perspective and another from a supervisor to give your application a more balanced view.
- Get active!
This goes without saying. Co Curricular activities, just like volunteer hours, showcase your ethic outside an academic atmosphere. Donors want to see a display of teamwork, social problem solving, and immersion in community, most of which cannot be gained from your grades. There are many areas of which to become active outside of the classroom. Schools often have many organizations and clubs that offer a variety of interests.
There are also sports clubs, or involvement in sports that would count as co curricular investment. Sports like golf or swimming display teamwork abilities, dedication, and hard work that donors want to see. It would even be better if you represented your school at a state-level competition, so work hard!
Good luck on your scholarship applications, and let us know if you need any help. Like always, Scholar’s App is here to help you if you require assistance for scholarship applications. If you have further questions about the article or scholarships, just drop us a comment below!
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