Tips for Filling Out College Scholarship Applications

By Barry Solomon , last updated January 9, 2012

Applying for college is a very exciting process, but having good tips for filling out your college scholarship applications is very important. It is a good idea to first copy the application and fill it out as a trial run before actually submitting it. When you have proofed and edited your first draft, then you can simply copy it on to the original.

Make sure that you carefully follow all of the directions on the application. If you are unsure what is being asked of you, call your advisor or the financial aid office to find out. If any section calls for you to hand write an essay, then do not type it, but write it by hand as required. And before you even start writing, make a list of all of your accomplishments that you feel are relevant to a decision on financial aid. Talk to your parents and even your friends about your list to make sure that you are not omitting anything that might be important. Avoid using abbreviations for the names of organizations where you worked or volunteered. Write them out so that you can be sure that anyone examining the application will know what you mean. And always give the dates and years of your involvement in any activity or with any organization.

Most scholarships have a minimum grade point average requirement, but once you have reached that it doesn't matter how far beyond it your average is. That is only a bar to entry. And once you have passed it, the examiners will look at other factors to make their decisions. That is why it is so important to give them a picture of who you are. So make your applications as personal as you can and try to establish an emotional connection between you and the committee that reads your application.

Financial need is often a factor in decision making for many scholarship programs. In addition to supplying any required documentation for financial need, if there are any special circumstances surrounding your situation, it is important to write and attach a note detailing those circumstances so that the examiner can understand the full context of your scholarship application.

It is also critical to read through the special qualifications for any particular scholarship. Some of them are given by corporations or by organizations that are seeking very particular qualities or goals. If you are a good fit for any of these scholarships, you will definitely increase your chances of winning an award. And remember, once you have filled out one or two applications, you have done the majority of the work for any others. So be sure to apply for as many scholarships as you can find.

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