Beat the Application

Beat the Application
  By Emily Jacques

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Scholarships are not just for brains and sports stars. Virtually anyone can win scholarships. Here’s how to write a winning application without breaking a sweat and a lot of pencils.


Any student can win scholarships — you just have to work smarter. Finding the right award to apply for is only the first step. How do you make your application stand out from the crowd? Use Campus Starter’s guide to scholarship and grant applications to up your ante, and you may also learn something new about yourself in the process.

ANALYZE YOURSELF
Filling out a successful scholarship or grant application is all about knowing yourself. Write down any job experience, interests, hobbies, and skills that you have on a piece of scrap paper. Include volunteering, travel experiences and interesting things that have happened to you. Then think about everything you want to do during your lifetime and write it down. Now look at the two lists. Is there a pattern? Your experience, skills and hobbies help you to achieve your life goals. That’s why the judges are interested in your activities.

Use these lists to write a one-page statement of your skills, experience and interests, then write another one page statement about your life goals. Get a teacher or parent to check the pages for spelling or grammar errors. You can now use these two pages to answer the application questions. If you prepare your personal statements beforehand, they will sound much clearer, and they will have fewer mistakes.

BUILD A PORTFOLIO
A portfolio is a collection of all the work you have produced, presented in a professional way. They are a valuable tool for scholarship searching, and job hunting as well. Portfolios showcase your talents to scholarship judges and prospective employers.

Have you written for the school yearbook or newspaper? Can you draw and paint? Have you built a web site? Has someone written an article about your accomplishments? Have you won any awards or commendations? Include them all. Web sites, art, creative writing, school essays and letters of recommendation all make for a great portfolio. Try to collect as many different kinds of accomplishments as possible for your portfolio.

If you have all of these projects in one place, it’s easy to submit a copy of your portfolio when the application asks for your accomplishments.

BE PRECISE
Once you’ve found the scholarships and grants you think you have a shot at winning, target your application specifically to what they are looking for. You don’t need psychic powers to figure this out. You just need to read the application carefully, and think about what they are asking.

Look for key words that repeat themselves. Chances are, they are interested in candidates that fit those key words. For example, if you see the word “volunteer” a lot, chances are you’ll have a good chance of winning the award if you emphasize your volunteer experience.Give them exactly what they want, no more and no less.

Get the application in on time, and don’t make mistakes. Tardiness and mistakes on your application means it will go straight to the reject pile. Excuses will not work.

PLAY THE NUMBERS GAME
Apply for as many grants and scholarships as you can — the more you apply
 

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