Former NSHSS Scholarship Director, Dr. Susan Thurman, offers up some helpful tips for students applying for scholarships. These tips are relevant to students applying for any scholarship.
Most scholarship applications involve three parts, a resume, an essay, and recommendation letters. Dr. Thurman offers tips on tackling all three of these components. The most important tip to remember throughout the scholarship application process, and also the college application process, is to PROOFREAD everything!
Abide by the essay’s guidelines. If an essay has a maximum of 500 words, writing 1,000 words will not give you an edge over other applicants.
Don’t try to force an essay you have previously written into a topic that doesn’t match
Include plenty of details; don’t generalize.
If you plan to write about your extracurricular experiences, it is better to have thrown yourself into all opportunities afforded to members in 1-2 clubs or organizations than to have merely been listed as a member in 3-4 clubs or organizations.
Reading your essay aloud helps you determine how your essay will read to its reviewers.
Share your essay with your parent or guardian. Then, run it by a friend or a mentor for a more objective opinion without familial bias.
Don’t bore the scholarship committee. Imagine if you were reviewing hundreds of essays, what would make YOUR essay stand out from the rest. Feel free to use quotes, historical and current event references, or even pop culture references. Be YOU!
Create a list of all your accomplishments starting with the most recent ones. Try to keep your resume to one page.
Be sure your contact information is up to date, with address, telephone, email and current school.
Begin with academics: GPA, academic awards, Dean’s list, math bowl champion, etc.
Officer positions in clubs and organizations, leadership conferences, captain of athletic teams, etc. Leadership doesn’t have to mean being the head of a club. Actions, not titles, make leaders.
Music, sports, clubs/organizations, hobbies, academic camps, employment, internships, etc.
Include volunteer activities. Don't forget to list dates of service activities.
Include a line that says, References available upon request. If you do wish to include references, be sure to ask for permission from your references and make sure that you have the correct spelling and contact information.
In most cases do not include activities and awards prior to high school (unless you have achieved something truly remarkable, such as winning the National Geography Bee, or founding a charity at a young age).
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