Prioritizing Scholarships

When applying for scholarships, you’ll want to avoid the “all-or-nothing”, “as many as you can”, and “rapid-fire” approaches. What I mean by this is, don’t try to fill out as many scholarships as you possibly can each month without giving much consideration to the scholarships that you’re applying for or spend more time focusing on scholarships that you might not necessarily qualify for just because that application is longer than the one that is more specific to your degree path or goals. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, scholarship committees like it when you take your time with scholarship essays. It helps them to know that you actually reviewed the guidelines, are a good fit for the scholarship they’re offering and (most importantly) that you actually care about the scholarship you’re applying for.

With that being said, you’ll want to focus your time and energy on applying for the scholarships that are the most specific to you, your goals, and your degree. By doing this, you’ll give yourself the best possible chance to receive those scholarships. Plus, imagine how much time you’d be saving yourself to do other things, like going to the beach, reading a book, going on an adventure/road trip or even playing Pokemon Go, just by prioritizing the scholarships you apply for. For each scholarship that you consider applying for, you’ll want to keep these 3 things in mind: the purpose, the mindset of the judges, and how realistic the scholarship is for you.

When I say the purpose I mean why a particular scholarship was established in the first place. What motivated the founder(s) to want to give money to students (possibly just like you) in the first place? Luckily for you, there are a lot of scholarships out there that talk about their purpose or motivation for establishing a scholarship before they even go into the requirements and expectations of the scholarship. However, you will also encounter some that require you to do a bit of digging to discover this. You can do this by carefully looking over both the requirements they have and the essay questions they ask. If you still can’t find the purpose after that, try looking into the person, group, foundation or corporation that is offering the scholarship to discover the things that they stand for or value the most.

Make sure you don’t overestimate or underestimate how well you qualify for a scholarship. The best way to do this would be to try looking at both the scholarship and your accomplishments/abilities from a third party perspective. Things like character, motivation, and personality are hard to measure which means that most scholarship committees won’t be looking for a perfect fit. Make the awards that match you the best the top ones on your list and the ones where you are a weak match for the scholarship the bottom ones on your list. Always make sure that you apply for the scholarships that you’re the strongest fit for first!

You should always keep deadlines for scholarships that you’re considering applying for in mind! Some scholarships will have multiple deadlines throughout the year, some will have a fixed deadline that stays the same each year, and others will be annual with a different deadline each round. There might be deadlines that you end up missing simply because you didn’t find out about the scholarship soon enough to create a good or even decent application. If you ever encounter this particular dilemma, just remember that you can always try applying for that scholarship the next year. Just make sure that you’re checking on when it opens back up and closes again.

Try to apply for as many of the scholarships at the top of this new list as you can. If it makes life easier, then you can even create another list that goes by priority and deadline. It’s never a bad thing to be extra organized when it comes to scholarships! Lastly, I want to caution you against scholarship scams. If you ever encounter a scholarship that seems too good to be true or leaves you with a funny feeling then it’s best to skip over that one and move on to the next one. Trust me, there are more than enough of them out there!

-Lara

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