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Scholarship Tips from Scholarships Recipients

So, you’ve made the decision to further your education and are ready to start touring colleges and universities…how exciting! But have you thought about how you’re going to fund your education? NSHSS offers a variety of scholarships, but there are also university scholarships, scholarships for academics, community service, diversity, and so much more. Our 2019 scholarship recipients were at Scholar’s Day D.C. to give tips on applying for scholarships. We’re sharing them below.

Organization is Key

Like most things in life, being organized makes everything easier. Using spreadsheets is an easy way to stay organized and will certainly be your best friend when it comes to keeping track of deadlines, what you’ve applied for, and the status of your application. We’re also big fans of color coding! When it comes to scholarships, spreadsheets really are your best friend.

Do Your (Scholarship) Homework

After applying for multiple scholarships, it can be exhausting to try to figure out what exactly the scholarship committee is looking for. However, it’s so important to research the organization you’re trying to get a scholarship from. Why? Because they want to see that you know who they are, what they stand for, and that you are indeed what they’re looking for in an applicant.

Recommendation Letters

Anyone can write a recommendation letter, but there are people better suited to write yours based on the scholarship you’re applying for. This is why it’s so important to build relationships with teachers, mentors and counselors who will give you a glowing recommendation. Also keep in mind that if you’re applying for a STEM scholarship, a science teacher or mentor who works at an engineering firm and can speak to your STEM abilities will be better recommenders than someone outside of the field. Grow strong relationships and don’t be afraid to ask for a recommendation!

Recycle, Don’t Rewrite

Chances are that you’re applying for more than just one scholarship, which means you’ll have to fill out more than one application, submit more than one recommendation letter, and write more than one essay. It’s a lot of work, but the good news is that you can recycle essays that you’ve previously written so you’re not spending hours rewriting a scholarship essay.

Instead of starting from scratch, take an essay you used for another application and make tweaks to it to fit to the new scholarship application. This saves time, but still allows you to customize your essay. Again, staying organized is key here! Color code used essays or title them with the scholarship name—whatever allows you to stay organized.

It’s Okay to Take Breaks

Searching for scholarships, collecting recommendation letters, writing college essays and finally applying for scholarships can be exhausting. If you get writer’s block while writing your essay or your eyes start to gloss over when scrolling through scholarships, take a break. Go do something fun or rest for a few hours or a few days. Once you feel refreshed and ready to go, come back and dive right back in. You’ll likely be more focused and ready to go.

Apply to Everything You Can

The chances of you receiving every scholarship you apply for is slim, but you may be able to receive multiple scholarships, so why not apply for as many as you qualify for? This includes both small and larger scholarships (small ones add up), scholarships for academics, athletics, service, diversity, and so much more. Keep an open mind and apply, apply, apply!

Be You

There’s no one who knows you better than you. So, when applying for scholarships, let the committee see the real you. Don’t get caught up in overusing fancy words or trying to appear as the perfect cookie cutter student. Achieving a perfect ACT or SAT score is impressive, but it’s not the only thing that matters for many scholarships.

Show the committee that you have interests that extend beyond academics, that you’re involved in the community, or whatever else about you makes you, you. You’re unique with a unique story. Celebrate your achievements, don’t hide the struggles you’ve overcome…just be you!

We hope these tips will help you through the scholarship process. Good luck! Now, who’s ready to get their education funded?

Special thanks to the NSHSS scholarship winners Rishibrata Biswas, Ahdis Beruk, and Samantha Leach for contributing tips to this article. To see related resources, explore even more tips for applying for scholarships from NSHSS.