5 Smart Steps to Increase Your Chances of Winning College Scholarships

Here are five easy steps that can change your fortunes in scholarship applications.

Step One: Start searching early. Many of us wait too long to start searching for scholarships and in many cases discover that the deadlines of opportunities we could have utilized have passed. I get emails daily from students around the world who visit my blogs lamenting how they just missed a deadline or how they have very little time to prepare an application because they found out about an opportunity too late. If you are in high school, it makes sense to start searching about two years before you graduate. That way, you can practically decide which scholarships you would apply to, and start preparing your application well ahead of the deadlines. Even if you haven’t started that early, you can still start today.

Step Two: Bookmark interesting links or scholarships you would like to apply for. You see, there is a likelihood that you would forget about a scholarship and miss the deadline if there is no form of reminder. You could subscribe to a scholarship website via email or like its social media accounts, or you could open a special document where you store scholarship links with their relevant deadlines. You could yet use one of many schedule management services available online to set up alerts for each deadline so that you don’t get caught off guard when the application opens.

Step Three: Read scholarships instructions carefully and be sure you apply for only the scholarships you qualify. The scholarship is stiff and your chances of winning a scholarship you don’t qualify for is extremely low, if not impossible. In many cases, students fail in scholarship applications by disregarding simple instructions. When you do so, you send a red alert to scholarship sponsors (who usually don’t know you personally) that it is risky to invest in you because your chances of success in your chosen are doubtful. After all, no student gets excellent grades for ignoring professors’ instructions – so scholarship sponsors will likely reason that you may not do well in school if you can’t follow instructions. And remember they want to invest in those who are likely to succeed. Now you know what to do – show that you are a good investment potential or a bad one.

Step Four: Write a stellar statement of purpose or scholarship statement – whatever the sponsors call it. It is very likely that you would be asked to write a statement, usually between 500-700 words, on why you should be awarded a scholarship. DON’T BEG!! The natural instinct would be to beg for help but that’s not how it works. Even some needs-based scholarships are awarded not to the neediest but the most promising among the needy! So instead of begging, discuss how you would be a great student if not that you can’t afford school. Discuss what makes you thick – your previous academic achievements as well as relevant non-academic achievements. Discuss how your interests align with the sponsors’ goals, if you know what they are. Engage the sponsors by tactfully (but implicitly) saying: “You see, I am a bright and ambitious student whose interests align with yours, wouldn’t you rather sponsor me?” It works!

Step Five: Gather all required materials and submit in good time! This may sound commonsense but you would be surprised by how many students submit incomplete applications and hope that the sponsors would either not discover it or would overlook it. Unfortunately, they usually don’t overlook your mistakes but would rather overlook YOU! Don’t be lazy or think you are playing smart. Ensure that you organize all required materials as directed and submit them by the deadline. Except where you don’t have a choice, it makes sense to submit at least a day before the deadline to avoid the possibility of falling victim to system failure that could make you miss the deadline.

While these steps may not automatically win you scholarships, they will definitely exponentially increase your chances of winning a scholarship. So start searching today and start applying. You can make it. Believe in yourself and give it a go. Best wishes!