The Scholarship Process for
Put your best foot forward. Make the most of the fact
that you are trying to improve your life. If you have
volunteered in the past or received awards, mention
them. You want to portray yourself as a person who is
serious about your college career. You know what your
objectives are, and you feel optimistic about your ability
to succeed. In other words, you want to portray yourself
as a person
that this organization wants to back up financially.
Put yourself in their place. If you have money to invest,
you will invest it where you know you will get a good
return on your investment. If the readers of your essay
feel that you are determined to succeed, and have the
ability and perseverance to do so, they will feel good
about investing in you.
Be creative in fulfilling the eligibility requirements
listed on the application form. For example, another
scholarship I applied for was a memorial scholarship.
I fit all the requirements except one. I was not a member
of an honor society or an organization that worked for
charitable affairs. As I read through the application,
it struck me that I did not belong to any organization
simply because raising four children alone and being
a full-time student took every spare moment of my time.
I stated this in the application form under the section
asking for a list of awards and the group in which I
was a member. I also stated that I felt I set an example
to all my co-students because I could hold a good GPA
(3.8) in addition to all my other responsibilities.
When I submitted the application, as with all the applications
I submitted, I didnt know what my chances were,
but I knew I had to try. I was awarded the scholarship!
It was a great surprise, but I was playing the odds.
The more applications you submit, the more chances
you have for winning. I would say that I won five out
of every 20 applications submitted. Of course the expense
of postage for mailing 20 applications plus 20 SASE
is between $15.00 - $20.00, plus your time. Scholarships
range from $500 to several thousand dollars. Not bad
for a $20.00 investment.
- Reference Letters: Three reference letters are usually
required. These letters are just as important as the
essay you write. First, look for people with status
in the community with whom you have a professional association.
Try to receive a letter of recommendation from a professor
or advisor who knewyou well during college. If you don't
have this resource, professional recommendations from
your employer or other sources are also acceptable.
Reference letters from friends should be your last option.
They dont necessarily need to state that they
are your friends in the letter, unless the organization
specifically requests letters from friends. Relatives
are usually not acceptable as references. Once you are
in college, find time to visit your professors
during office hours. Not only will you learn more about
the subject matter, but each professor is a prospective
reference letter writer.
Dont be timid about approaching people to write
a letter for you. I found that everyone that I asked
was happy to write a letter. This was a nice surprise
as I felt at the time that I would be imposing. I also
asked that they send me an electronic copy of the letter
so I would have a copy when I needed another reference
letter from them.
Give your references a copy of the application so they
will have the address and the topic that your essay
covers. It is also helpful if they can write their letters
along the theme of your essay. For example, another
scholarship I applied for required an essay on the topic
of overcoming personal adversity. I gave each person
a copy of my essay and asked that they angle their reference
letters to the subject. The application will also state
whether the reference letter should be mailed directly
to the scholarship committee, or returned to you so
you can mail all the documents together.
- School Transcripts: Transcripts are almost always
required. Most of the time official transcripts are
required, although unofficial are sometimes accepted.
Check with your college to see how long it will take
to have the official transcripts mailed, and then allow
an extra week. My college would take ten working days
to mail out a transcript, so I would apply for it three
weeks in advance. They also charged $3.00 per transcript..
Twenty transcripts at $3.00 each added up to $60.00.
Add this $60.00 to the $20.00 for postage, and the returns
are still phenomenal. Besides, you wont need all
20 at once.