Scholarship Applications: 4 Quick Tips to Make Yours Shine

scholarship-application-510x277We understand!  You’re sitting at your desk staring at a Community Foundation scholarship application.  It’s the end of your senior year and you have other things on your mind:  friends, prom, sports, school activities, AP tests, graduation parties, picking a college, and finding a summer job.  Here are four QUICK tips that can make or break your scholarship application.

1.      Fill it all out.  Missing information can disqualify you from scholarships that you might be eligible to receive.  Use free space to share information that might sway committee members in your favor.

2.      Prioritize your activities.  Many students have more activities than space on the application form.  Always highlight activities that show leadership.  Also, lift up activities that you were committed to over an extended period of time.  And think bigger than just school; don’t forget volunteer roles that show your commitment to community. 

3.      Strategize who should write your letters of recommendation.  Most Community Foundation applications require at least one recommendation from a person in a guiding role  such as a coach, music instructor or community member. 

Choosing the right recommenders is critically important.

    • Who knows you best?
    • Who can speak to your leadership skills or dedication to the community?
    • Consider a recommender who won’t be writing 100 other recommendations.  Some of the least asked recommenders write the most powerful letters.

Now here comes the hard part.  Don’t just send the recommender an email asking for a letter.  Schedule a meeting to chat with them, and sooner not later!  Ask if they are willing to write a positive reference for you.  Highlight what part of your resume you would them to celebrate.  As example, you might have a teacher speak to your academic commitment or willingness to tutor classmates and then ask your church group leader to discuss your leadership role in that group.

Control your message.  Once the recommender agrees to write a letter, immediately email them your activities, your plans for the future, and remind them what strength you would like them to highlight.  And most of all, thank them.

4.      Write an essay that makes you proud!  You have worked hard the last four years so use your essay to sell your story to the scholarship committee.

  • Be unique! Tell a story that makes you stand out from the crowd.
  • Be strategic! Remember what your recommenders are going to say.  Use this essay to tell a different part of your story.
  • Be bold! Write with confidence and strength.  Use strong verbs.
  • Be polished! Make sure your writing is organized. Have it edited by several trusted sources.
  • Be You!   Never have your essay edited to the point where it loses your voice.

If you haven’t picked up any scholarship applications from your guidance counselor, do so now! You can also find scholarship applications here. Good luck!

Findlay-Hancock Community Foundation Findlay, OH