Scholarship Essay Tips
Scholarship Essay Do's and Don'ts
Scholarship Gathering Sheet Template
Tips for scholarship success
Prepared by Ginelle Testa
- Make a list of the reasons you're applying for scholarships. Are you running out of options to pay for college? Has your college fund run out faster than planned? Has one of your parents lost a job? Is college turning out to be more expensive than planned? Are you already overwhelmed with loan debt and want to reduce it? Do you have a certain skill or attribute that will make you a likely candidate for scholarships? Are you a leader in your community, school or team? Or, do you love free money? Whatever your reasoning and need, write it down and keep it in mind. Not everyone’s reasoning is the same, and it is important to keep yours in mind to keep you motivated on your search.
- First, look at your closest resources. There are many scholarships within reach that people are not aware of. Talk to the Financial Aid Office staff about scholarships within Rivier. Ask them what makes an endowed scholarship candidate stand out. Check to see if there are scholarships through your or your parents' employers. (Market Basket has a scholarship for their employees.) If you do community service or volunteer work, research those organizations to see if they offer scholarships. Look at state scholarships, where you compete only with students from your home state rather than the whole country. The likelihood of receiving these scholarships is often higher.
- Next, do your research! Find out what scholarship searches are most effective by asking the Financial Aid Office. Using your SALT account to find scholarships, as well as The College Board and FastWeb, are highly recommended.
- Pinpoint what kind of scholarships to apply for based on YOU. Take some time to figure out what sets you apart from others – keep all factors in mind. It could be your major, financial need, volunteer work, leadership skills, race, sex, sexuality, or grades. There tend to be two categories: merit-based scholarships, which focus on a special talent, characteristic or academic excellence, and need-based scholarships, which look at financial resources.
- Be patient and persistent. This is incredibly important. The easier a scholarship is for you to find and apply for, the easier it is for others to do so as well. There are many monthly drawings that just require your name, phone number, and email, but the good scholarships are ones where you show who you are and why you deserve the funds. Don’t be intimidated by essays or a need for recommendation letters. You can do it!
- Write that essay. The best thing about essays is writing about you—your accomplishments, education and aspirations. Once you have a solid essay, you can tweak it to fit many different scholarship applications. You need to sit down and put into words what makes you, you. Rivier is fortunate to have incredible Writing Center staff members who will help you with these essays. The staff will gladly help you brainstorm ideas and help you with your essay organization and finishing touches. Take advantage of the Writing Center resources; not all universities are as fortunate.
- Keep deadlines in mind and stay organized. When applying to more than one scholarship, it is very easy to get the deadlines confused and end up missing one or more. There is nothing more frustrating than writing a great essay and then missing the deadline! Get a calendar, paper or electronic, and stay aware of deadlines, and your progress, before you miss them.
- Keep applying. Most scholarships allow you to reapply the following year if you do not receive it the first time. You’ll have a better chance the second time! If you receive scholarships, make sure to find out if they are reoccurring and renew them if necessary.