With the cost of college tuition rising astronomically each year, everyone wants to compete for the chance to obtain as much funding as possible. There are many scholarship opportunities available, but the competition for the vast majority of these is fierce. As such, you want to ensure that each scholarship application you send out represents you to the best of your ability. You’re competing with countless students who want this award just as much as you do!
Because of that, the following guide aims to show you 7 mistakes you should avoid making at all costs when it comes to applying for scholarships. Avoiding these mistakes just might mean the difference between an “ok” application and one that shows you are truly deserving of a college scholarship.
1. The Numbers Game
Many students make the dreadful assumption that they should only apply for one or two scholarships at a time, then cross their fingers and hope they win. Hold the phone! If you’re only applying for very few scholarships, you’ve already drastically decreased your chances of actually obtaining funding. The more scholarships you apply for, the better your chances of winning one or two. Keep this in mind when you’re browsing the Internet looking for legitimate scholarship opportunities. If you’re eligible, apply!
2. Follow Directions
This may seem like common sense, but you might be surprised at how many people fail to read directions completely when applying for scholarships. One of the worst things you can do as a prospective student looking for scholarships is to apply willy-nilly for opportunities you are not eligible for. Additionally, sending in incomplete applications will bursaries usually result in automatic disqualification for the award as well. You have eyes – use them, and read the directions completely for each scholarship you’re applying for.
You want to apply for as many scholarships as possible, but applying for opportunities you’re not eligible for will only waste time and prevent you from applying elsewhere.
3. Fill Out the Form
A common mistake for many students applying for scholarships is neglecting to fill out the entire application. Incomplete applications – even if it’s only a detail or two – will reflect badly upon your ability to follow directions, mistake number two to avoid. Even if a particular question doesn’t apply to you, it’s best to note that directly on the application. Rather than leaving a space blank, simply write, “Does not apply” so the form is accurately and completely filled out.
4. Write Neatly
If you are applying for scholarships via snail-mail, make sure you are completing your application legibly. A sloppy application will nearly guarantee failure to obtain scholarship funding. The person reading your application most likely looks at hundreds of applications per day, and a sloppily written form will not hold his attention for very long. Chances are, if the scholarship reviewer has to guess at what you’re trying to say, you’re not getting the scholarship.
Bottom line: write neatly! It’s always best to send applications electronically, if possible, or type the information in – but if you can’t, make sure you’re using your best penmanship.
5. Spell Correctly
Essentially, you are being “graded” on the appearance of your scholarship application. Your application is supposed to be a reflection of you, and poor spelling and/or grammar will definitely reflect badly. An application can be neat and presentable, but if it’s filled with juvenile spelling mistakes and grammatically incorrect sentences, you’re not going to get the scholarship.
To ensure your application doesn’t automatically get rejected on the basis of spelling, have someone with decent writing skills look over your applications beforehand. They’ll be able to point out any mistakes you might have made and show you how to correct them if you’re unsure. It’s better to ask for help then to send it a poor application, so suck up your pride and ask for help if you need it.
6. Meet Deadlines
Possibly one of the worst mistakes you can make when applying for scholarships is failing to get the application in by the deadline. Scholarship committees set deadlines for a reason, and failing to get the application in on time indicates a lack of organizational skills. You’ve put a lot of hard work and effort into filling out your applications – don’t let your hard work be for nothing by failing to get the application in by the deadline.
A handy way to avoid this mistake is to mark on a large wall calendar all the deadlines for each specific scholarship you’re applying for. That way, you can be ahead of the game by knowing in advance when you need to have the applications sent. Taking a few extra moments to plan your schedule this way will surely maximize your chances of obtaining funding for college.
7. Avoid Scams
Finally, don’t fall for any scholarship “opportunity” that claims they need money up front or your credit card information before you can be eligible for a scholarship. Scholarships should never cost money to apply, and anyone who asks you to pay up front is probably operating a scam to take your hard earned money. There are plenty of resources available online and within your community you can take advantage of without having to pay anyone to apply for a scholarship.
Remember, if it sounds too good to be true – it probably is!
The above mistakes are typically some of the most common errors students make when applying for scholarships. By following the guidelines set forth above, you can avoid making these mistakes altogether while simultaneously maximizing your chances of getting a scholarship or two.
Applying for scholarships is a daunting task already, so don’t make it harder on yourself and waste time by making mistakes that are easily avoidable. By being aware of these common problems, hopefully you can avoid making them altogether. Essentially, all you need to do is double check your work and read directions and you’ve already maximized your chances for scholarship success.