By | 27 November 2015

What you might not already realize about the scholarship application process – something that could be very critical in more ways than one – is that a lot of good scholarship applicants are going to appear very similar on paper where the “numbers” are concerned, such as academics.

You should be congratulated on maintaining that 4.0 GPA and yes, a 28 on your ACT is really a great score, but who are you as a student? Fortunately for you, scholarships are really not just about test scores and your GPA.

Many scholarship providers are looking for someone who really exemplifies the values and virtues with which they align themselves, while also making sure to select a candidate who is likely to perform well in college and continue their education, making the most of the opportunity they have been given.

[Know what to do before, during and after the scholarship essay or application]

Other things many scholarship providers look at might be extracurricular activities such as membership with various organizations and volunteering. All of these could come into play and should not be overlooked. Make sure to get involved in such activities, as they are frequently considered on scholarship applications.

Ultimately, it could come down to the scholarship provider choosing between you and dozens or maybe hundreds or thousands of similar students. This is where you need to stand out from the others if you are going to have a chance of winning the scholarship. So, how can you accomplish this?

It all starts with a great scholarship essay.

I know, I know. You don’t like writing essays. It’s a lot of work and takes too much time. That’s not the way you should be thinking of it. Think of it as your chance to shine and to stand out from all the other applicants.

Many scholarships are going to include an essay requirement, most of which will have a prompt built in, or at the very least, a choice between two or three prompts. The essay you turn in is going to be very important.

[Check out how to make a scholarship essay or application stand out.]

If you can write an essay that gets more than one read or possibly inspires a smile or laugh or even better, a unique perspective, you are moving in the right direction. Be creative and have fun writing it while, of course, following the directions provided.

As a scholarship judge myself, I have read thousands of essays and most of them are not great. They aren’t awful, they just include needless grammatical and spelling errors more often than not, and what’s worse is they are often quite boring. Here are some tips on what to avoid when writing your personal statement.

1. Avoid grammar and spelling errors: Why would there be any errors on a document that is so important? Between all of the tools available to you via the Web and on your computer, there is really no excuse for such errors, but you obviously can’t rely solely on them. Get somebody to proof-read your work and make sure you go over it thoroughly.

2. Follow the directions of the prompt: As with many things in life, here, too, it is critical to follow directions and answer the question or address the topic presented to you. If you don’t have sufficient knowledge to do so intelligently or aren’t confident in your ability to do so, research the topic or talk to friends and family about it to perhaps get some inspiration.

3. Tap your creativity: Be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to complete the essay and application so you can really get into the topic and approach it in a way that is somehow unique. If you are too pressed for time, you really are much less likely to produce something with the best possible chance of helping you win the scholarship.

Of course, there are other factors that go into a good scholarship application, but this will hopefully get you started in the right direction.