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How to Create a Successful Scholarship Application
| by Pauline Flores

Saying that college is expensive is as obvious as saying water is wet. Don’t let this unfortunate truth get you down. There are many scholarships that will fund your dreams of becoming a debt-free graduate. The trick is knowing how to make your application stand out from the crowd. These next four steps will boost your chances of getting that scholarship you’ve been eyeing!

The Scholarship Search

Before creating the best application ever, make sure that the scholarship your applying for is right for you. Quality over quantity – a cliché that holds true in pretty much any circumstance. Applying for dozens of scholarships is a waste of time when they aren’t relevant to you.

When beginning your scholarship search, the first place you should look to is your college. You’ll have a better chance of earning a university-specific scholarship than a national scholarship.

Read the scholarship description carefully to make sure you are eligible to apply. Once you finish applying for the scholarships offered by your university, then you can move onto applying for those national scholarships! Websites like and are great resources for your scholarship search.

Create a Solid Resume

Much like jobs, most scholarships ask for resumes to evaluate candidates. The people choosing the scholarship winners are mainly looking for GPA, job experience, volunteer activities, extracurricular groups, and leadership roles.

This may sound like a lot, but if you’re able to highlight these sections on your resume, you’ll look like a truly outstanding student. The best scholarship candidates can prove that they can balance a huge load on their plate, but still be successful in each area.

Please don’t forget to proofread your resume and your scholarship application. It would be a shame that you missed out on free money because you spelled “their” instead of “there.”

Have Your References Ready

References can be anyone that can speak positively of you except for family members. The ideal reference will have knowledge of the important intangibles you have to offer, such as work ethic, compassion, determination, innovation, and so on.

Professors, bosses, coaches, and mentors are all credible references that you should reach out to. Make sure you have a strong relationship with your reference so that they can say a lot about why you deserve the scholarship. Before listing someone as a reference, always let him or her know in advance. The last thing you want is for your reference to be unprepared when asked about why you deserve the scholarship!

Write Engaging Essays

The most important, and most time-consuming, part about applying for scholarships is writing the scholarship essay. No college student looks forward to writing essays, but your future financial state is on the line; now is the time to suck it up and do it! You can learn more about essay writing in our blog post: How to Write a Successful College Essay.

One important piece of advice is to show, rather than tell, why you deserve that scholarship. Answer the essay question thoroughly by including detailed examples of what you’ve done in or outside of school that highlight your best character traits. The selection committee will get restless from having to read and evaluate the truckload of applications they receive.

Your goal should be to write an essay that is interesting, engaging, and concise. Don’t rely on those formulaic essay writing skills that you learned in high school. Tell a story! Don’t be afraid to show energy and passion in your writing. Think of the most compelling book, article, or blog post you’ve ever read (maybe this one?) and try to emulate the author’s tone.

I hope that this blog post has truly been helpful for you in getting that scholarship. If you do receive a scholarship, congratulations! Try to get your scholarship donor’s address or email address to send them a thank you letter. Handwritten letters sent in the mail are best.

If this blog post has directly benefited you, let us know by leaving a comment! Good luck on your scholarship pursuits!


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