Scholarship Success, Tips and Tricks

The world of scholarships can be confusing, competitive, and complicated. Searching for opportunities can be overwhelming. Filling out applications can be fatiguing. Here are some tips and tricks that touch on the basics of scholarship success, organization, and writing an effective application [PDF] to help set yourself up for success!

The basics

Start early. Fulton’s Scholarship Application is open annually from November 1 to February 1. Missing the deadline means you’ll miss out on the opportunity to be considered for scholarships until next year’s cycle. Get started early to prepare well written essays and supplemental materials, and don’t wait until the last minute to submit your application. Unexpected issues can and do arise, and late applications will not be accepted.

Be prepared to do the work. Plan ahead and set aside time dedicated to both your scholarship search and preparing your application. You may be asked to write a personal statement, essays, submit recommendation letters, and/or a resume as part of the application process. All require time, organization, and planning.

Have realistic expectations. Whether it’s hoping to get your application essays done in a week or being awarded a scholarship, remember to be realistic! Scholarships tend to attract a large number of highly qualified applicants. Meeting minimum criteria alone does not guarantee you’ll receive a scholarship. Selections are competitive, but taking the time to prepare a quality application gives you the best chance for success!

Stay organized. Use a calendar, checklists, and folders to keep deadlines and important information organized. Track activities and accomplishments throughout the year, and keep an updated resume on hand. Prepare your essays in a word processing program and save copies of everything you submit, as well as contact information for external scholarship providers.

Create a plan of attack. Make a list of application requirements and supplemental materials. Create outlines before you begin essay questions to be sure you’ve covered all main points. Be sure you haven’t left out something important because incomplete applications will not be considered.

Have a goal in mind. Why did you decide to pursue an Engineering degree? What are your goals after graduation? Spend some time thinking about what motivates you to invest your time, energy, and money into your chosen degree path. It is important to be focused and clearly state your goals in your personal statement.

Solicit help or ask for advice. Proofread and ask for feedback from friends, family, or even professors. University Writing Centers and Career Services can also be used for more formal feedback and guidance.

Find a way to stand out! What experiences and characteristics set you apart from other students? Tell your personal story and engage the scholarship committee. Draw on your experiences in volunteer work, community service, extracurricular activities, work experience, leadership, etc. Include any unique characteristics about you or your family and obstacles you’ve overcome.

Keep your essay(s) clear, concise and compelling. Long-winded sentences can lose the reader. Keep the focus clear, stay on topic, and include relevant details and specific examples to compel your reader to keep reading! Keep the tone professional, but authentic to you! 

Stay positive and say thank you. Stay positive and feel good about what you offer as an applicant. Everyone is unique and has different experiences. To those that provide assistance with your application or a Letters or Recommendation, saying “Thank You” can demonstrate gratitude, good manners, and preserve important relationships.