Challenging the Stereotype: Scholarships

Books, television shows, and movies all depict college students in a similar manner with characters attending parties, struggling through challenging classes, and making life-long friends. However, they also show an unfortunate struggle that many students take as a simple fact of college life: the absence of money. It’s true, college is expensive, but what many of these characters and students do not realize is the potential of scholarships: money given for a simple essay or application that, once you get the hang of, has the potential to change the broke college student mindset entirely. To make the most of challenging college student stereotypes, it is important to learn the tricks to scholarships. 

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  1. Start Local: Beginning with local scholarships has several advantages. One such advantage is that they serve as practice for larger scholarships. Despite generally offering less money, local scholarships allow you to practice finding a voice and figuring out, generally, what most readers look for. In addition, the pool for these scholarships is usually much smaller. This gives you a greater chance of not only winning but of receiving potential feedback beyond what a larger company would offer. Scholarship search engines including Unigo and Cappex can help with finding local scholarships and other similar opportunities that better fit your needs. 

  2. Use your strengths: This is arguably the most important part of writing scholarships. Unfortunately, many students attempt showing a side of themselves through scholarships that do not truly fit their lives and personalities. Think about it, in order to impress someone you generally only show them your best qualities. Scholarships work the same way! If you are funny, by all means, crack some jokes and show your wit. If not, your attempted humor may not come through and reflect on your essay negatively. Stick to your guns to truly pack a punch!

  3. Stand Out: Picture yourself as a scholarship reader for a minute. You are reading through approximately 500 answers to the question “Who do you admire?” and each one is a parent or grandparent with the same background and lessons learned. Are you bored yet? This is the life of many scholarship readers, so in order to achieve consideration for any scholarship you must stand out in the readers’ minds while they scan through monotony. This tip goes hand-in-hand with “use your strengths” as your strengths can aid you in standing out. Most scholarships do not have many rules as to the style of writing, which can help many people with this step. For example, if you are a gifted poet, you can use this strength to move from the pile of monotony to the pile of consideration through rhymes and obvious talent that pique the interest of the readers. 

  4. Apply to a wide variety: This may seem obvious, however, many students seem to struggle with the idea that more applications increase your odds greatly. Using the previously mentioned scholarship matches, this step is also easier than you may imagine. This is because many scholarships use similar questions making applying to a few with the same basis simple. Unigo, a previously mentioned scholarship matcher, is also great to increase your odds as they offer simple, fun questions monthly that many students can connect with. Just remember, the more the merrier!

  5. Check previous winners: Before applying to scholarships, be sure to check if they are within your reach. Let’s be honest, we all think we are pretty great, but sometimes we over or underestimate our abilities and choose jobs and course loads that do not fit our personalities. Many students also struggle to enter scholarships because of this. Fortunately, there are a few ways to make sure you apply to scholarships that fit! The first is to check the prerequisites. Many scholarships include a few needed items such as GPA or test scores. Checking this allows you to see if filling out the document is worth your efforts. Secondly, check the previous winners. Like prerequisites, this step can allow you to ensure you would be a good contender for the presented scholarship. It can also jog some ideas and help you with creativity!