5 Tips for Applying for an Academic Scholarship

By Jane Hotspur , last updated January 9, 2012

Valuable college degrees can be very expensive to obtain. The costs of tuition and living expenses can quickly add up, leaving you, or a parent, with a very large bill and much debt to repay. Academic scholarships can help you and your family to lessen the costs associated with a college degree. However, given the number of people that are in need of a scholarship, they can be hard to obtain. It is therefore important that you put together a very strong application, one that stands out from other applicants'. Here are five tips on how you can improve your chances of being awarded a scholarship.

Start Researching Scholarship Opportunities Early

There are a number of academic scholarships now available to high school students looking to pursue a college degree. Many of these scholarships are specifically designed to help students who are not only high achievers, but also have a particular race, religion or hobby. You should take the time necessary to research a host of different academic scholarships, so that you can apply to both general academic scholarships and ones that are geared toward people like you. It is important to start this research early, because it can be a demanding process, and many scholarship deadlines occur early on in the academic year. Once you have conducted your research, you should organize a list of the different scholarships you plan to apply for and their deadline date so that you do not miss an application deadline.

Check Eligibility Requirements Carefully

Since many academic scholarships are designed to help particular groups of people, you will want to check eligibility requirements very carefully. You will want to make sure that you have the qualifications to be considered for a scholarship so that you do not waste your time filling out the application instead of applying to other scholarships. If you think you would qualify for a scholarship, but are not sure, it is best to play it safe and directly ask the organization handing out the scholarship about your eligibility status.

Fill Out the Entire Application

While it may seem obvious that you need to fill out the entire application, many students automatically disqualify themselves from an academic scholarship because they leave questions blank or do not attach the necessary documentation by accident. Before submitting your application, you should carefully check that you have ticked the appropriate boxes and answered every question. You should also make sure that you have attached the requested documents. Most academic scholarships want to see your transcript, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation and financial information, in addition to the essays they ask you to write.

Polish Your Application

Many students think that once they have written an essay or answered the questions being asked by the scholarship committee, they are ready to submit. The academic scholarship applications that stand out, however, are the ones that have been fine tuned. You should proofread your application so that there are no mistakes and think about ways you can improve your essay.

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