30 seconds. That’s all it takes for most college scholarship applications to get skimmed by the judges and thrown into the reject pile. Unfair? Maybe, but with hundreds, and more often, thousands of application packets to read through in order to find a winner or two, there has to be some way to quickly weed out the bad to get to the good. The challenge then, lies in getting your scholarship application passed that initial skim and into the possible winners pile. Here are 5 surefire ways your application will sadly sail into the reject pile. Avoid these and your chances of winning a college scholarship automatically increase.
1. You do not qualify to apply for the scholarship. You have a 4.0 G.P.A., lots of community service, and are president of your class, but the scholarship is for students that work at Kentucky Fried Chicken. You are too busy to work, but apply for the scholarship anyway hoping that your other wonderful merits will be enough to win. WRONG! Read each scholarship requirement carefully and only apply if truly qualify. You are wasting your time and the time of the judges if you ignore these specifications.
2. You don’t have time to get two letters of recommendation, so hope that the one glowing letter you did get from your favorite teacher is enough. WRONG! You may be an outstanding student, but if the requirements call for two letters, include two. Why not let two people try and sway the judges in your favor instead of one? Give your letter of recommendation writers plenty of time to write for you, or don’t bother applying for that scholarship.
3. You leave blanks. You were unsure of an answer to a question on an application, so left it blank instead of trying to figure out the best way to give your response. WRONG! Blank spaces imply an unfinished and careless application. They also glaringly stand out during that first 30 second skim. Make the time to answer all questions and never hesitate to ask for help from a teacher or other trusted adult if you are unsure of how to respond.
4. Your essay does not stay within the specified word count. You are so excited about the essay subject that you figure more is better and go way over the number of words required. WRONG! Scholarship judges probably won’t take the time to count each word that you write, but if an essay is supposed to be 500 words, write as close to 500 as you possibly can. When it comes down to choosing a winner, they just might count your words and not following the directions may cost you the scholarship.
5. You do not take the time to make sure your name is on every single page of your application. They know who you are, right? WRONG! Many scholarship application directions are very specific about the order in which you arrange all required materials and whether or not you should staple them together. Many do not want you to staple them. Your application packet may include transcripts, multiple letters of recommendation, essays, a scholarship resume, filled out application forms and more. If any one of these becomes separated and mixed in with those of another student, your application is now incomplete and will be tossed into the reject pile. Take the time to ensure that your name is clearly visible on every single page of your application.
College scholarship money is out there for all levels of students, but careless mistakes like the ones above will not create winners. Doing everything you can to keep your application out of the reject pile is a step closer to that coveted “Scholarship Winner” title. Don’t let 30 seconds stand between the scholarship money and your application!
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