Saturday, January 24, 2015

Scholarship Tips

I recently bowed out of a scholarship review committee I'd been a part of four about five years. Each year, the committee members individually review 20 to 30 scholarship applications using rubrics and then get together to finalize our decisions. It's a very tedious process, and the competition is steep/ when 30 kids all have excellent grade point averages, it somes down to the details. I thought I would share some advice for hopeful scholarship applicants. One would think these tips are no-brainers, but you'd be surprised at how many kids make mistakes:

*If asked to write an essay, write an essay. And here's a tip: Follow essay format--Use paragraphs. As a reviewer, when I see a page-long block of text without paragraphs, I groan. Show respect for your reader; follow the basic rules of paragraph writing. If you don't know what those are, Google it; not doing so says you're lazy.

*If asked to answer a specific question in your essay, answer the question. Don't just ramble on, don't simply recycle your essay from the last scholarship you applied for. If the question asks, "What is the most memorable experience" or "Which high school experience had the most impact...." then give one, write about one; show that you can follow directions. If you're lucky enough to have more than one answer to choose from, I recommend choosing the one you don't think the previous twenty other candidates wrote about, especially if you're not a great writer. It's bad enough that I have to read ten essays on a trip to Costa Rica or a band trip; if it's poorly written, too, it's just going to push your application further to the bottom.

*Not a great writer? Ask a good writer to read your essay and give you feedback.

*Thank the scholarship committee for the opportunity; it will set you apart, trust me. You don't need to write a paragraph or anything; just say thanks at the end of your essay.

*If invited to write a letter of need, write one, even if you don't think your need isn't as compelling as some might be; it gives you an opportunity to share more information that may help sway the reviewer.

*Before submitting your application, check and double check that you have followed the instructions. When I have 30 applications to rank, the first thing I do is eliminate the ones that didn't follow the directions.

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