How to Make a Great First Impression to Win Scholarships

There's one scholarship application strategy that'll make the best first impression and win you more money for college. Read on to find out what it is!

Let’s put some truth on the table: You’ll (most likely) be one of several (if not many) candidates for any scholarship you apply for. This truth then begs the question: Why are some applicants selected to be finalists for a scholarship opportunity when most of the other applicants are just as impressive? The first impression you make with a scholarship committee can separate you from the pile of other scholarship candidates. Your strategic goal should be to catch the attention of the decision-makers immediately. If you create the strongest first impression possible, your application will be flagged as a potential contender. Let’s talk about what makes a scholarship application stand out and one strategy you can use to be the winner.

What impact do you hope to have?

When I’m working with students, I often ask them to describe what impact they hope to have on the world or in their community after they complete their education. It’s a big question, but it’s also the most important question to ask as you start your scholarship pursuit. Scholarships from companies, organizations, and foundations are often created and expedited because doing so aligns with their corporate or organizational missions. Awarding a scholarship is an act of impacting the industry or the community they serve. Having an impact is therefore designed into the scholarship process. If you intentionally include a statement that speaks to the impact you hope to make, you’re aligning yourself with the goals of the committee. There are many ways to catch the attention of the scholarship committee, but one of the most effective strategies is to craft a “why you?” statement.

Related: How to Improve Your Scholarship Applications

The “why you?” statement

A “why you?” statement is a two- to three-sentence statement that speaks to the impact you hope to have on your family, your community, or the world after you complete your education goals. The French mathematician, physicist, religious philosopher, and writer Blaise Pascal once wrote, “The entire ocean is affected by a single pebble.” Each and every one of us has the opportunity to be a “pebble in the ocean” and impact the larger world around us. If you clearly state how you aspire to utilize your education to impact others, you’re reassuring the decision-makers that their scholarship award money will touch the lives of people beyond yours. For example, a student intending to be an Education major could write:

“If your organization grants me this scholarship, I hope to advance in my career beyond the role of a teacher. I aspire to become a principal or superintendent to have the opportunity to impact not only hundreds of students but potentially thousands.”

This “why you?” statement immediately separates the application from all the other Education major applicants. Impact is simply stating how you hope to be the pebble in the ocean in the life you have ahead of you. The majority of scholarship applications are sent electronically; this opens the opportunity to include your “why you?” statement in your introductory email that you submit with any required application materials.

Related: Steering Clear of College Application Essay Mistakes

Stating your intended goal for impacting the lives, community, or the world around you assures scholarship decision-makers that their choice in considering you is a smart one. You’re essentially stating that their award will have impact beyond you as an individual—that their designated or fundraised scholarship money will touch many lives. So take the time to craft your own “why you?” statement. As a first impression, it can open doors to potentially thousands of dollars in scholarships for you.

After you get your “why you?” statement ready, use our Scholarship Search tool to deploy this ultimate strategy and win more money for college!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Tags:

About Jean O'Toole

Jean O’Toole is an educational consultant and author of the bestselling book Scholarship Strategies: Finding and Winning the Money You Need. Over the past 15 years, she has helped tens of thousands of students in the United States. Individuals collectively have been awarded millions of dollars by applying Jean’s scholarship strategies. In 2008, Jean co-founded Connections101, a company specializing in providing motivational tools for scholarship searching. It is her goal to empower students to design their paths to their future without college debt. Visit Connections101.com for more information, and follow Jean on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Rayan Hamdan

Rayan Hamdan

High School Student

I joined CollegeXpress just a few months ago. I had been struggling with severe anxiety, causing me to not be able to tour schools and make sure a college would be perfect for me. I came across CollegeXpress one day when I was searching for colleges online, and it completely changed the game. I was easily able to choose colleges that would suit me, and I also entered a few giveaways! Thank you so much!

Leah Maciel

Leah Maciel

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me with all aspects of applying for college. The website is extremely easy to navigate and gives access to so many resources. I was able to research all of the colleges I was interested in, find out any information I wished to know about, and keep them organized in a list. I've also been able to research scholarships and save them as resources for later. I've used many websites in my college and scholarship search, and CollegeXpress has by far been my favorite one to use.

Fernando Ponce

Fernando Ponce

High School Junior

College is a way of life that helps us find out who we are as a person, and CollegeXpress is a great way to stay connected with our future, even for students with little time on their hands due to the challenges of high school we face.

Fabiola Rodriguez

Fabiola Rodriguez

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped me on my journey to get to the school of my first choice by showing me all the options I have. I didn’t know of the College of Southern Nevada until I went on this website, and it helped me look for other choices and compare what colleges would be right for me.

Yuhlani Patterson

Yuhlani Patterson

High School Student

CollegeXpress has helped me find so many scholarships that fit me. They match me to colleges I have specific interest in to make searching for colleges way easier and more efficient. CollegeXpress refers me to schools that have my major of interest and backup schools if I want to change my mind. CollegeXpress also gives out their own scholarships, so you have even more of a chance at gaining multiple scholarships. This website has helped me de-stress from the pressure of not being able to afford college, [of finding] what schools are right for me, and how to find easy access to scholarships that most people never knew existed.

College Matches
X

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Stevenson University

Stevenson, MD

Kean University

Union, NJ

Pace University

New York, NY