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 why you want to apply
for and potentially receive scholarships. Are you running out of options to pay
for college? Has your college fund run out faster than planned? Have 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
so many scholarships within reach that people are not even aware of. Talk to
your financial aid office about the types of scholarships within Rivier that
you can apply to. Ask them what makes an endowed scholarship candidate stand
out. Check to see if there are scholarships through your work (Market Basket
has a scholarship for their employees), see if your parents have any
scholarship programs through their work. If you do any community service or
volunteer work, do some research on the organization to see if they offer
scholarships. Then, look at the scholarships in your state. With these, you are
only competing with students from your state rather than your whole country.
The likelihood of getting scholarships is often higher.
- Next, do your research! Find out what
scholarship searches are most effective (by asking your financial aid office –
or me!). I highly recommend using your SALT account to find scholarships as
well as College Board and FastWeb.
- Scholarship search websites help you to pinpoint
what kind of scholarships to look 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, grades, etc. 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
- Be patient and persistent. This is incredibly
important. The easier a scholarship is for you to find and apply to, 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 can 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 – and once
you have a solid essay, you can tweak that one piece to fit many different
scholarships. You need to sit down and take the time to put into words what
makes you, you. At Rivier, we are so fortunate to have an incredible Writing
Center with staff who will bend over backwards to help you with such tasks. The
staff will gladly help you brainstorm ideas for your scholarship essays and
help you with the organization and finishing touches. Take advantage of the
Center, not all schools 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! Also, if you receive scholarships make sure to
find out if they are reoccurring and renew them if needed.