Making Yourself a Great Scholarship Candidate
By College Toolkit
talked with school counselors to help unravel the mystery of
winning a scholarship. While there may be no "magic formula," we did uncover
some useful advice for making yourself a great scholarship (and college)
Tip #1: Get involved in something you are passionate about
Every school counselor we interviewed had this piece of advice: "Be yourself."
Do not think of this process as trying to fit into some "scholarship winner's"
mold. Pursue activities that you enjoy doing and participate in
organizations that are passionate about. You are much more likely to stick with an
activity if you enjoy doing it.
There are thousands of organizations out there looking to give money to
high-achieving students, whatever the activity may be. Not every scholarship
requires that you participate in a sport, that you be on the school newspaper,
or that you play an instrument. Being the National Yo-Yo Champion will likely
impress many scholarship committees.
Tip #2: Quality Over Quantity
Pick a handful of activities and do them well. Most scholarship committees are
not interested in seeing that you participated in dozens of activities for 5
minutes each, but would rather know that you dedicated considerable chunks of
time to a few activities.
Scholarship committees want candidates who have made significant progress
towards a goal or who have achieved something meaningful. By really immersing
yourself in an activity, you demonstrate that you are a committed and
Tip #3: Don't Just Participate, LEAD!
Scholarship committees want people with initiative. They want students who will
squeeze all they can out of the opportunity that a college education offers.
Therefore, once you've selected the activities in which you are interested, it
is important to display as much leadership and initiative as possible. Don't
just join the environmental club, start a recycling program. If you are in the
Spanish club, run for treasurer.
Tip #4: Make Yourself Known
Don't be a stranger to teachers and school counselors. They can be great
sources of information on college, scholarships, and other opportunities in
your school and your community.
Also, lots of scholarships require letters of recommendation. If you have built
a strong relationship with a handful of teachers and counselors, they are
better equipped to write effective recommendations. This could just be the
difference between being a finalist and winning a scholarship.
Tip #5: Keep Track of Your Accomplishments
Don't just throw away your "A" papers or your 1st Place ribbons. Start a file
where you can save all these important documents and awards. They will come in
handy down the line when you are preparing your scholarship and college
An outstanding English paper could give you a great idea for a scholarship
essay. A collection of your Speech Team ribbons could help you as you create a
list of all of your high school achievements.
Tip #6: Be Confident
Don't sell yourself short. Most students have a story to tell about their high
school accomplishments. The easiest way to be eliminated is by not applying at