How to Improve Your Chances for Winning Scholarships

Scholarships are a great way to fund your college education without having to go deep into debt that will follow you for years to come. After all, scholarships are free money that you can use for college that you don’t have to pay back. What’s better than that?

Not surprising, scholarships are very competitive and can be difficult to win. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to improve your chances of winning – things that are easier to do than maintain a 4.0 GPA. Here are a few ways you can improve your chances for winning scholarships:

Follow the Rules

The simplest thing you can do to improve your chances of winning a scholarship is to follow the rules for the application. If you must apply online, don’t send in a paper application. If you must send transcripts in a sealed envelope, don’t have them sent to you first and then put them in a new envelope.

These are just a few examples that might apply. Make sure you read the rules for application thoroughly, and then follow them to the letter. Don’t be disqualified for failing to follow simple directions.

Meet Deadlines

No matter how amazing your application is, if you don’t get it in on time, you won’t get the scholarship. Don’t think that you’ll be OK if you’re only a day or two late. If you are even one day past the deadline, your application will be disqualified. And don’t think that you can claim that “it’s in the mail either” – most committees will look at your postmark or the date and time on your e-mail or online submission.

Don’t just meet your deadline. To be on the safe side, send in your application far ahead of the deadline to give yourself a cushion for any delays. Often, the earlier you send in your materials, the earlier your application will be reviewed and the more preference you may receive.

Get Great Letters of Recommendation

Most scholarship applications ask for a letter of recommendation. Even if a letter of recommendation is not required, if you are allowed to submit one, you should. Letters of recommendation can tell a scholarship committee about your talents and strengths in a way that you can’t tell yourself.

Take the time to get the best letters of recommendation you can, asking those you know will heartily endorse you and those who are in positions of high esteem. Submit as many letters of recommendation as you are allowed to submit.

Write a Compelling Essay

You are more than your GPA and test scores. A personal essay can fill in the gaps and tell the scholarship committee more about who you are and why you are so deserving of a scholarship.

Write the most compelling essay you can, sharing a significant personal or academic experience that highlights the kind of person or student you are or how the scholarship and a college education will make a difference for your life.

Supplement Your Application

Some scholarships will allow you to send in supplemental materials for your application, which can tell the committee more about you and your strengths as a student and a leader. If you are allowed to provide additional information, do so.

Some examples of supplemental materials that you may want to add to your application include personal essays, creative samples such as art work or fiction, work samples, or volunteer materials.

Of course, the best way to improve your chances of winning a scholarship is to be the best student you can be and to be involved in a number of leadership and extracurricular activities. However, these are simple steps you can take to improve your chances regardless of how strong your academic or social record is.

What did you do to strengthen your scholarship application? Share your tips for other students in the comments!

Guest Author Bio:
Heather Green is a mom, freelance writer, pet lover and the resident blogger for, a free informational website offering tips and advice about online rn degrees.

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