Thinking About Getting a Scholarship? Here’s What You Need to Do

tips for applying for a scholarship
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Now that you have made the decision to pursue further studies, you might be thinking about how you are going to fund your education. 

Whether you are starting your undergraduate studies, postgraduate studies or have already begun your studies, scholarships are a great resource to help cover the costs of your education and take pressure off your finances. You don’t need to pay back the money.

Getting a scholarship can also provide you access to education that might otherwise be difficult to obtain, as well as open doors to potential training and development opportunities. 

Although there are numerous scholarships offered for university and other higher education by a range of providers, including educational institutions, private companies, non-profit organizations and more, it is not easy to get a scholarship. 

Scholarships are said to be a gift; hence the competition in getting one is high. Applying for one is not an easy process either. You need to first find scholarships you are eligible for, be clear of different application deadlines and prepare materials required in advance so that you can submit your application in time. 

In addition, the selection criteria are usually rigorous. Consequently, winning a scholarship for a university education takes careful and diligent preparation. 

Take a look at some resources and tips that will maximize your chance of getting a scholarship in this article.

Types of scholarships

There are various types of scholarships available, including merit-based scholarships, financial aid scholarships and scholarships for particular groups of people, such as international students. These scholarships can either be fully-funded or partially funded, depending on the conditions. 

📚 Merit-based scholarships are those that can be earned by meeting or exceeding standards outlined by the provider. This kind of scholarships can be awarded upon achievement in academic records or specific personal talents. 

📚 Financial aid scholarships are, on the other hand, those awarded based upon your financial circumstances, commonly related to your parents’ income or background, or any extenuating circumstances. 

📚 Many other scholarships are for specific groups, for instance, international students coming from Commonwealth countries, students who are women or graduates, and those coming from military backgrounds.

How to find a scholarship

To find a scholarship, you can try a few different paths that are available. 

🔎 Financial aid office at the school

One of the easiest places to start your scholarship search is the financial aid office at your college or the school that you are interested in. This is possibly the most direct place to look for, as they are the department that hands out scholarships for university. 

🔎 U.S. Department of Labor’s scholarship search tool 

Another useful place to find scholarships is via the U.S. Department of Labor’s free scholarship search tool, which lists more than 8,000 scholarships for university and financial aid opportunities available across the U.S. 

🔎 Federal agencies and state agencies

You may also wish to find a scholarship through federal and state agencies, such as the federal student aid website and the U.S. Department of Education, which lists out aids and contacts available across the board. 

🔎 Ethnicity-based organizations

Scholarships for a university education are also available from ethnicity-based organizations, such as:

  • the Blacks at Microsoft Scholarship
  • Central California Asian Pacific Women Scholarship
  • the Betty Hansen Continuing Education/Cultural-Heritage Grant 

🔎 Religious organizations

Religious organizations like churches and religious communities are another source to search for scholarships. For instance, the following scholarships are offered by religious groups to cover for university studies: 

  • the Disciples Leadership Program
  • Experiential Education and Jewish Cultural Arts Tuition Support Fund
  • the Presbyterian Study Grant 

🔎 Foundations, businesses, and civic groups

Other places to find a scholarship are foundations, businesses and civic groups. 

  • The Mazda Foundation Education Grants
  • Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship
  • The David and Jeannie Price Scholarship 

The above are all examples of scholarships businesses and civic groups have available for university applicants. 

Organizations that are related to your field are another resource to search for scholarships. 

  • The American Academy of Chefs Culinary Scholarship
  • American Floral Endowment Scholarships in Floriculture and Horticulture
  • Alaska Space Grant Program 

All offer scholarships for universities that are focused on specific fields. 

🔎 Scholarship search engines

You may also want to take advantage of scholarship search engines, such as Scholarships.com, Cappex and Peterson's, as they have scholarships categorized and filtered by eligibility, location, duration and amount, which will help you clearly see what types of scholarships you can get and how to get scholarships for attending university. 

How to apply for scholarships

Now that you have found the scholarship that you are looking to apply for, the next thing is to understand and follow the steps required in submitting your scholarship for university. 

Although each of the scholarships available for university has individual requirements, there are some essential steps that apply across the board. 

The first thing to look out for is whether you meet the eligibility of the scholarship you have found for university. This is a common mistake that applicants make, as they begin the application process without checking the details of eligibility, only to find out that they do not meet it after submitting their application. You can easily avoid this by checking the eligibility of the scholarship you searched for.  

Once you have confirmed that you meet the eligibility of your desired scholarship for university, you need to fill out any required application forms and upload any necessary documents onto the portal. You may then receive instructions to write an essay or record a video, which you then need to complete and submit ahead of the deadline. If there are no other required tasks for the scholarship you have searched for, the last thing is then to submit your complete application before the deadline.  

Tips for applying for a scholarship

So, you have searched for some scholarships you are interested in, and understood the steps required in applying for a scholarship, you are probably still wondering how you can really get that scholarship for university.

Well, here are some tips.

✏️ Begin research early

As you are probably aware, scholarships for university are extremely competitive and difficult to obtain, but there are some steps that you can take to increase your likelihood of getting a scholarship. 

You should begin your search early to find the scholarships you are interested in and filter out the ones you are eligible for. This will make sure you get a clear idea of what scholarships are available for university and allow you enough time to complete the application alongside your other commitments. 

✏️ Create a dedicated email account

Second, you should create a dedicated email account to track your scholarship applications for university and communicate with scholarship providers. In this way, you are less likely to miss important scholarship-related emails. 

In addition, make sure your scholarship email address looks professional and don’t include random words or numbers in it.

✏️ Write a creative essay

You may also want to consider writing a creative essay if the scholarship provider requires you to write one. The essay will be one of the major elements they look at when they decide who to award the scholarship to. Be creative and stand out.

✏️ Include your social media 

It is equally important to make sure you build your social media presence and professional network, especially in this digital age.

You can include your blog or professional social media in your scholarship application. It not only showcases your ability to communicate via written words but also gives providers of the scholarship a chance to understand how you express your values and ideas proactively and logically. 

✏️ Look for local scholarship opportunities

Last but not least, check local organizations and providers that offer scholarships for university. These are generally not as competitive in comparison and may be specifically designed for local students and residents, hence increasing your chance in obtaining a scholarship. This will also allow you to attend a university that is closer to home, if that happens to be your preference, as well as access to more local opportunities and resources.

🔑 Key Takeaway

In conclusion, it is not an easy task to find a scholarship, nor is it easy to get a scholarship. However, by understanding the different types of scholarships available for university, the steps required to apply for one, and by following the tips mentioned in this article, you can maximize your success in getting a scholarship, allowing you to complete your studies with less financial pressure.

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--- Originally written by Wayne Chang ---

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