Scholarships are an amazing way to help pay for college. College tuition is an extreme financial burden and schools don’t give nearly enough merit. Not all athletes can rely on their athletic ability to get them a free ride, especially if you’re talking about a DIII school or playing an equivalency sport.
The process of applying for scholarships can be extremely overwhelming, however, with lengthy essays and endless recommendation letters. With the cost of school rising each year, scholarships are becoming more and more important, therefore more and competitive. Here are some great tips when it comes to applying for scholarships.
Related: Shortfalls of Athletic Scholarships
- Apply local
Local scholarships usually offer better chances since you will only be competing against people in your area. It cuts the competition down immensely. And, if you’re lucky, the people awarding the scholarship might know you.
- Make your essay memorable
Scholarship providers review countless applications and essays, so some applications are forgotten in the process. It is absolutely crucial that your essay stands out. Especially when everyone is using the same prompt, the essays can get very mundane. The memorable have the best chance of winning. Essays with a story and a hook from the first line tend to do very well/
- Don’t be afraid to get personal
Life experiences can be a great topic to write about for your essay. Talk about adversities you’ve overcome. These life experiences are part of who you are, and talking about them will show the scholarship providers personal growth and resilience.
- Apply to similar applications
Applying for scholarships can be very time consuming, and with school, homework, and extracurriculars who has the time? Many scholarship applications are similar for the most part and there is nothing wrong with reusing essays and responses from previous applications if the prompt allows.
- Peer edit
Always use another set of eyes to go over your application and essay. Whether it be a family member or a friend, fresh eyes can help you avoid unnecessary typos and grammatical errors.
- Manage your time
Waiting until the last minute will not suit you. Start applying for scholarships your junior year. Getting a head start is the best way to tackle as many scholarships as possible.
- Ask for letters of recommendation early
Ask coaches, employers, teachers, and mentors for letters of recommendation, but do so with PLENTY of warning. Nothing is more awkward than asking for a letter of rec on Wednesday when the application is due Friday. When asking, provide some personal accomplishments and anything relevant to the application that you want the letter to cover.
- Apply within your niche
Many scholarships are targeted at either your past experiences or your future goals. Finding your niche allows you to apply to more specific – and therefore less competitive – scholarships.
- Apply even if you’re not qualified
This doesn’t mean apply for everything, but if there are scholarships that you don’t think you qualify for, but you can write your essay in a way that shows how your interests relate to the donor’s, apply! You never know who else applied, and even if you’re not perfectly qualified, you may be more qualified than everyone else who applied.
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* Originally published on January 11, 2022, by Madison Machado