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The Scholarship Judging Process

(Continued from 2)

Whatever the main considerations are for the particular scholarship – be it grades, financial need, major, religion, hobbies, professional associations, whatever – if your application doesn’t match up to ALL of the basic requirements of the scholarship, it’s history at this point.

“Hrmmm… hey, this application seems good, Jason, 4.2 GPA, very nice! Lots of volunteer work, helps his mother at her catering business, very nice… oh… he’s studying Ghost Chasing, we’re looking for Basket Weaving majors, oh well, too bad…"

Moral: If you don’t pay attention to the requirements, the judges are not going to pay attention to your application.

How to “Beat” Stage One:

  • Be Neat! No coffee stains!
  • *TYPE* your applications – avoid handwriting.
  • NO SPELLING ERRORS. None!
  • Be Complete!
  • Make sure you include all required supporting documentation, references, etc.
  • Be Accurate!
  • Make sure you match all the requirements.
  • If the scholarship is for English majors and you are studying computers, don’t apply!
  • Think about how to make your application STAND OUT.
  • Consider putting it into a plastic folder.

If not forbidden, include school newspaper clippings about you, additional recommendation letters, or other things that help you shine!

Remember: appearances count. I am occasionally criticized for telling students that their applications need to be neat and clean, people say to me that “it’s common sense and everyone knows that.” My answer to that criticism is simple: If “everyone” knew that they needed to be neat and clean on their applications then why do so many applications look like they were written in a fast-food kitchen?

2. “Pick the Contenders” Stage.

Remember that quite a few outstanding students ended up in the “no” pile during the first stage because their APPLICATIONS were not good enough – not because the STUDENT was not good enough.

This is an important point to remember: The best APPLICATIONS get the serious consideration. The person looking at the applications at this point may still be a secretary, a volunteer, or an intern, or it may be the scholarship administrator. Sometimes, it is one of the “official judges,” who has been chosen to select the applications that are to be “seriously considered.” It may be the entire judging committee.

Sometimes this stage is “combined” with the “Weed out the Junk” stage. This is a particularly tough stage to “win” – a critical eye is being used to find ANY REASON WHATSOEVER TO SAY “NO” to your application.

Either way, usually at this stage in the game, your application is being looked at for what is wrong with it. They are not looking for the best applications, they are looking for the worst applications, so they can “kill” them and get on with the job.

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