How to Stand Out as a Scholarship Applicant

By Victoria Robertson on November 8, 2017

When you’re applying for scholarships, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. In fact, there are typically hundreds of applicants applying for the same scholarship, so it’s natural to feel that way.

So how do you stand out when you’re dealing with such a high volume of applications?

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It’s really all in your approach.

We’re going to focus here on how to make your essay stand out, as this is typically the requirement for scholarships, and making this component stand out is your best bet at being noticed. So what exactly do you have to do to stand out in this way?

Follow these six tips and your essay is sure to make the final cut.

1. Plan/Organize

When writing any essay, the most important part is the planning that’s done prior to writing it. Some individuals use formal outlines, some informal outlines, but no matter what, a certain level of planning goes into the writing of a paper.

The same is to be said for writing a scholarship entry. In fact, I believe it’s more important here. Scholarship judges are going to look at the overall organization of the work as a direct reflection of your organizational skills. Did you plan ahead? Are you capable of making a fully developed argument? Did you take the time to plan what you were going to say, or did you simply start writing at the last minute?

These may seem like minute details, but when it comes to hundreds of applications, they’re really going to matter.

2. Respond in full

Perhaps one of the most important details to pay attention to when submitting a scholarship application is your ability to respond to the prompt in full. Many prompts have several prongs, i.e. many different questions that need to be answered.

Ensure that you’re responding to the prompt in its entirety, meaning you aren’t simply answering one question throughout your essay. Again, this is where the pre-planning is going to come in handy.

3. Be passionate

Another very important, though often underrated, portion of writing a scholarship essay is the necessity of your passion. When you’re entering a scholarship contest, the judges will be looking for whether or not you’re passionate or simply want some money.

If you’re applying for a scholarship that’s specific to your intended major or something specific like this, make sure you’re outlining that personal meaning. Why is this important to you? How are you passionate about this?

4. Be gracious

This is a quick lesson that you’ll want to learn sooner rather than later: being a gracious applicant is going to get you very far. You are applying for a scholarship that hundreds of others are also applying for. So the judges are reading hundreds of other essays. Demonstrate your appreciation for their taking the time to read yours, as this will make your entry stand out without a doubt.

Reiterate your appreciation for their time, demonstrate your passion and give them something worth reading. Basically, you want to make sure you aren’t wasting their time, so be as gracious as possible in your writing, answer all their questions, and do everything you can do on your end to make it clear that you truly appreciate the consideration.

5. Edit, edit, edit

You always want to edit your work. That being said, when it comes to a scholarship contest, you definitely want to edit your work. Any grammatical error or simple typo can give the impression that you didn’t take your time on your submission and that the scholarship must not matter to you.

In other words, you want your work to be absolutely flawless. I highly recommend editing your work several times, and I would also suggest you have a couple family members or friends read through it as well. The more eyes you have helping you, the less likely you are to submit something that isn’t of the highest quality.

6. Beat the deadline

Simply applying for the scholarship on time is important, as they aren’t going to consider late applications seriously. That being said, you don’t want to be submitting at the eleventh hour.

Make sure you plan your entry with enough time left to edit your work and submit with time to spare. The earlier you’re able to get your application in, the more seriously it’s going to be taken. That being said, don’t compromise quality for speed to submit. Instead, take your time, just make sure you’ve planned well enough that you’ll submit before the deadline passes.

Scholarship applications are cumbersome, exhausting and genuinely difficult at times, especially when you’re trying to stand out from a substantial crowd.

That being said, it’s not impossible. In fact, so long as you’re putting in the effort required, you’re likely going to make an impression. For that reason, keep these six tips in mind so that you can ensure your application stands out.

Good luck!

Victoria is a dedicated writer who graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She currently writes freelance pieces for various sites and works in Marketing for Myndbee Inc., promoting their current mobile app, Picpal.

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