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How to Improve Your Scholarship Applications

If you're going to go off to college with some scholarship money in your pocket, you need to have the best application possible. Here's how to improve them!

Of course, everyone wants to look amazing on their scholarship apps, so they get picked to win that money—but sometimes you have to put a little extra effort in if the scholarship is really competitive with a lot of other applicants. Probably the best thing you can do with your scholarship applications is make sure you’re applying to the right scholarships in the first place by finding ones that you meet all the qualifications for. Beyond finding awards that fit you, these tips can help you make your scholarship applications shine.

Watch your words

When writing out your scholarship essays or short-answer responses, keep an eye on your word choice. You want to sound like yourself—but your best self. And you want to appeal to your audience and impress them with your thoughtful and mature writing. Now, don’t just swap out words at random with a thesaurus. But do take your time and use active language. For example, instead of saying “participated in [insert club name],” you could write “Engaged leader in [insert club name].” This sounds a lot better. Also, do not be afraid to brag a little about yourself in your scholarship apps—you’re selling yourself to your audience. Just be careful to walk the line between a thoughtful boast and obnoxious bragging. Pro tip: this is easier if you “show” rather than “tell.” For example, you could explain how you helped raise $1,500 for your basketball league’s travel expenses by organizing a dance-a-thon in your high school. That’s impressive without saying “I’m a really great fundraiser.”

Related: The 3 Easiest Steps to Winning Scholarships

Make a handy list

Writing down a list of things you have done throughout high school can be a really helpful reference when you’re filling out scholarship applications (and college apps too, maybe even real-world résumés). Brainstorming all the stuff you’ve been involved in, you also find some extra things to include in case your application looks a little bare. Your list of high school activities can also help you realize how many things you’ve done—and how many things might make you eligible for a scholarship. Certain scholarships look for certain activities, so you can use your list to search for scholarships and keep an eye out for ones that fit you.

Have a trusted adult proofread it

When it comes to improving your scholarship apps, you might be surprised by how helpful a trusted adult’s opinion can be, especially someone who has been through all of this before and who knows you really well. Whether it’s your favorite English teacher, a parent or older sibling, a mentor, or your high school counselor, they can tell you which areas to clean up or where you may need to add or take out some information. The adult might also be able to help steer you in the right direction if you wander off…ooh! Look at the kitty!

Related: 6 Student Tips to Help You Apply for Scholarships the Right Way

By following these steps on your scholarship applications, you can make yourself look more appealing to your audience. I have filled out a ton of scholarship apps, and—trust me—you want to stand out a little bit when they see yours. You don’t want to be just a number; you want to be a name and a story that sticks with them.

Find more scholarship advice in our Financial Aid section, or start searching for them right now using our Scholarship Search tool.

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About Emily Barylske

Emily Barylske

First things first: I'm on the hunt currently to pay for my college in free money, and I'm a huge supporter of getting all of the college scholarships you can before taking out student loans. I love taking photos, reading, and writing in my free time. I am currently involved in school clubs such as FCA, choir, and yearbook. I hope to help you and encourage you in your college and scholarship search process.

 

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