Applying For Scholarships - Tips
HOW TO GET STARTED
- Visit the Naviance Scholarship page on your Family Connection account to access available scholarships and visit their websites for directions on how to apply.
- Note: Look for local scholarships to be posted in mid-January.
- Think before you write. Brainstorm to generate some good ideas and then create an outline to help you get going.
- Do not write a traditional introductory paragraph with name, personal information, etc. That information should be else where on the application.
- Show, don’t tell. Use stories, examples and anecdotes to individualize your essay. Get specific, avoid vagueness and you will make a stronger impression.
- Develop a theme. Don’t simply list all your achievements. Decide on a theme that sums up the impression you want to make. Write about experiences that develop the theme.
- Approach your topic in a unique way. All topics need a personal, fresh perspective.
- Illustrate your uniqueness and enable the reader to evaluate your writing.
- Accentuate the positive, even in painful experiences.
- Set your reader up to be interested in what you have to say in your first sentence.
- Make sure your essay makes an impression. The key to writing a strong essay is to be personal and specific. Include concrete details to make your experience come alive; who, what, where and when. The essay is your opportunity to give the reader a reason to look at you as a good investment for them and their community.
- Watch spelling, grammar and punctuation; DOUBLE CHECK YOUR SPELLING. Proofread carefully and share your essay with friends, family members and/or teachers. Another pair of eyes can catch errors you might miss.
LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION/ATTACHMENTS
- Give the counseling secretaries advance notice that you need copies of transcripts. For some local scholarships unless an official transcript is requested a copy will work. (Again, read directions carefully.)
- Give teachers, counselors, and others that you are requesting a letter from at least two weeks advance notice. Clearly state what the deadline is.
- Select people that can write a good letter as well as have first hand knowledge of you as a person.
- Prepare a resume or at least a list of your accomplishments to give to the person you are asking.
- Consider other people in addition to school staff. Community members, clergymen, and employers all make excellent reference people.
- Ask them to put the letter on letterhead and whenever possible ask them to run several copies and sign each one individually. That is much more impressive than a photocopy.
- Develop lists of honors/awards, school activities, community activities, and employment on the computer so you can organize them in any way each scholarship application requires.
- Start listening to daily announcements or checking in the counseling office for forms around the end of November.
- File online whenever possible.
- Submit your application as soon as possible. October 1st is the earliest you can submit it.
Scholarships are “free money”, so you should never have to pay money to get them. Watch out for scholarship scams or companies that say you have already won a scholarship, guarantee you will win scholarships, and/or require personal information such as a credit card to perform a search. Save the money and do it yourself. Grants are another great source of financial aid. Usually, grants are awarded based on financial need or academic achievement. Check out “Finding Outside Grants” for more information
How can you tell the good from the bad?
- States you have won an award for which you did not apply.
- Does not supply valid contact information.
- Guarantees you will win an award.
- Requires personal financial information (such as credit card numbers or checking account numbers) to “verify” or “hold” a scholarship.
Remember financial aid and scholarship information is available for free.