Furious because I wasted my time on scholarships!?
I wasted countless hours on 18 scholarships. Writing essays, filling in applications, getting school transcript, asking for recommendation letters, and haven’t won a single scholarship. My eyes would burn after finishing my essays because of how long I had to stare at the damn computer screen.
I envy the kids who got scholarships at my school because most of them are already ones who are always receiving recognition throughout the school and sometimes in our local newspaper.
This just makes me so angry, I just want to drink myself to sleep now.
I applied to over 25 scholarships before I won my first award, but I ended up winning $20,000 over 3 years in college. Here’s some tips that helped me find and win scholarships:
1. Use more than 1 scholarship search service because they usually don’t list competitor awards. I use ScholarshipExperts.com and Schoolcoup.com. Less spam and great results.
2. Find awards that are interesting to you or you have some knowledge about already. Trying to write an essay on a topic you could care less about will come through in your writing.
3. Make your essays more like stories and use a personal hook. Never spit bakc the essay question in your opening sentence. You have to grab their attention from the start.
4. If you love to write and are creative, hunt down short story contests and other writing contests because you can use one story or poem for several different contests (work smarter not harder!). I won 5 scholarships with on short story I wrote for a creative writing class in college.
5. Look for programs where you can use work you have already created. I once used a marketing campaign for a vacuum cleaner for a $5k scholarship looking to attract younger employees (substitute vacuum for peeps!) just by tweaking it a bit. Easiest $5k ever.
6. NEVER submit your first draft! Put away your essay for a day or two and then re-read it. You’d be amazed how much better you can make it and how many mistakes you might find.
7. Don’t overthink things. Too many times students try to figure out what the scholarship committee is looking for in an essay or application. Be yourself!
8. Think outside the box. If you have an essay question asking what superpower you would choose, don’t list flying, invisible, super strong, etc, as thousands of others will also be giving that answer. Think about your day-to-day life and what you’d love to make easier or what you love to do. Something simple like making dirty laundry disappear can be humorous and unique, scoring you the scholarship!
9. Think of scholarships like a job. When I started to get discouraged about applying, I actually counted up the hours I had spent, which was about 50 at the time. When I won $5,000 on my 26th application, I realized I just got paid $100 an hour to apply for scholarships. I’ll never get paid that at my real job! Even one win is worth all the time and effort.
10. Look locally. Local scholarships have fewer applicants. You’d be surprised how many non-profit, civic groups, churches and local businesses offer scholarships to local students. Ask you guidance counselor, school district and scour local websites to see what may be available in your area.
Most of all, don’t give up. If you are creative, check out the short essay scholarships (250 words or less) offered by ScholarshipExperts.com. They don’t consider gpa or income, just your essay response. www.scholarshipexperts.com. BTW – any scholarship that requires just your basic information and no work product is a waste of time. They get over 50k entries. More work=less competition! Best of luck 🙂