Top 10 Scholarship Application Tips For High School Students

Wednesday, January 03, 2024
Adobestock 257074046

The bad news is that the average cost of college - including tuition, room and board, and other fees - rises year after year and has reached unprecedented levels. At the same time, only a fraction of students receive full-ride scholarships to reduce these expenses and avoid hefty student loans to pay for school.

But it's not all doom and gloom. The good news is that if you want to focus on your academic success instead of worrying about escalating debt, scholarships for high school seniors and scholarships for high school juniors improve your chances of landing a scholarship application before you begin college.

The NSHSS is committed to helping high school students get the most aid possible, both by offering scholarships and with tips like the below on how to fill out scholarship applications. 

1. It's never too early to start

Why wait until your junior year to send your scholarship application? While most of the time, scholarship applications are for high school seniors, you can take action early. 

Research which scholarships for high school students are ideal for you and, therefore, worth your effort and time before your junior year. You may even get some ideas for extracurriculars or service projects that will help you get more funding down the line. 

Not only will this strategy give you a head start, but you can also avoid the stress and fatigue of racing to finish and turn in your scholarship application.

2. Apply for scholarships that are the best fit for you

Don't waste your time submitting a scholarship application to every opportunity you find. Instead, use your time wisely by narrowing down your options. Use online resources like our NSHSS scholarships page to research year-round listings and select the scholarship that best fits you.

At the same time, don't discount any scholarships you could qualify for, even if it's a longshot. 

3. Pay attention to every detail 

With extensive criteria for how to format your essays, what documents to attach, and when the important deadlines are, it pays to read and follow your scholarship application instructions. Never assume that you already know. Ignoring critical instructions is one way to end up in the rejection pile quickly.

4. Keep your scholarship application essay personal

Scholarship essays are critical, and we could fill many posts with tips on how to make the most of the opportunity. But the number one thing to keep in mind is: make it personal.

The only way for your writing to make an impression is to be specific, genuine, and unique. Don't shy away from including honest details to make your experience true-to-life and one-of-a-kind.

5. Ask for expert help when you need it

Don’t hesitate to ask your high school counselor or a college advisor to walk you through the application process from A to Z. They do this every day, and are often even incentivized for it. That means you can trust them to assist you with everything from choosing the most suited scholarship to reviewing your scholarship application submission package.

If you have family members or friends who are already in college, ask them for advice too. They'll likely be happy to help. 

6. Ask for letters of recommendation early

It's advisable to request letters of recommendation from teachers, coaches, employers, and other members of your community early. Give them as much as four weeks advance notice to provide it, so they're not pressured and deliver their best as well. Make it easier for them by providing as much relevant information regarding your scholarship application as possible.

7. Always present yourself like a pro

Staying professional under pressure is a lifelong skill you will learn through the scholarship application process. Apart from minding your appearance and tone at interviews, it must likewise reflect in your writing and other communications.

 It also means you must proofread your emails, application, and essay painstakingly. If you haven't yet, set up an email that uses only your name or numbers (no fun jokes!)

8. Don't forget your online presence makes a difference

Whether it's a scholarship application or a job application, you can't avoid what sort of impact you make online. You must polish everything from your Google results to your social media channels to be timely and professional through and through. Lock down any profiles where you want to let loose a bit.

9. Go beyond your GPA to stay competitive.

While a high GPA is always a good goal, some scholarship opportunities don't even consider your grades. Think hard about what makes you genuinely deserving of your scholarship application being ahead of the pack. 

Do you have any noteworthy accomplishments or talents that make you uniquely qualified for this specific opportunity? Find your passion and let it shine when invited to share.

10. Send a thank you note 

One final way to be a front runner is to email or, better yet, mail a thank you to the scholarship personnel for their trouble. It goes a long way to show you are appreciative of their consideration. Don't forget to thank everyone who wrote your letters of recommendation too!

 Visit our Scholarship Application Tips for more indispensable advice directly from the experts.