If you’re like me, no one has taught you the ropes for scholarship applications, so I made time to teach myself. I’ve been fortunate to score thousands of dollars in scholarships since I started applying for them during my senior year of high school. Over the last five years, I’ve learned a few best practices all members can benefit from.
- Start Early: Conduct research to find all scholarships you qualify for. Save the applications in a folder on your desktop to serve as a daily reminder to complete them.
- Make a Checklist: Typically an application will have a bulleted list that you can follow. Check off the items from the list as you complete them. Applications may ask for a completed application form, an official transcript and a letter of recommendation from a faculty member or internship/job supervisor.
- Build Relationships with Faculty: You’re going to need a letter of recommendation from someone, so make sure that one or two professors know you well enough to write one. The best way to start the relationship is by visiting them during their office hours. When you ask them to write your letter of recommendation, email your resume and a description of the scholarship you are applying for, along with the name of the person the letter should be addressed to.
- Create a Draft & Edit Your Essay or Application Answers: Let your personality shine in your answers to the application questions or essay, but don’t forget to also make it professional.
- Include Keywords: Read the scholarship description and qualifications thoroughly for key words that you can insert into your essay. This will show the scholarship committee that you paid attention and that you meet the scholarship’s criteria.
- Don’t Lie: Be honest about your qualifications. It’s as simple as that.
- Be Yourself: Believe it or not, your personality jumps off the page based on word choice, extra-curricular activities, and/or unique characteristics. Don’t be afraid to show the scholarship committee who you really are. Being yourself increases your chances of making a connection with the scholarship judges, which also increases your chances of being awarded the scholarship.
- Double Check: Make sure you have included all the items the application requests. Incomplete applications are tossed without consideration, no matter how good the rest of your application is.
Start planning now for your PRSSA Scholarship applications, and share YOUR pointers for applying for scholarships in the comments below.
Ariana Michelle Trevino is a senior at The University of Texas at San Antonio pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in public relations and a minor in business administration. As UTSA PRSSA president, she is passionate about San Antonio and helping public relations students prepare for their futures. Follow her @ArianaUTSA or add her on LinkedIn.