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Common Scholarship Application Mistakes 

Friday, October 5, 2007

Filling out scholarship applications is no one's idea of a good time. I'd rank it up there with studying for a Calculus final as things I'd rather not be doing on a Sunday afternoon. However, if you want to get some extra money to help pay for college, it's a necessary evil.

If you are going to spend the time applying for scholarships, the least you can do is make sure you turn in a quality application. Otherwise, you're probably wasting your time trying to win the scholarship.

I've been involved in several scholarship programs and here are a few tips to help you avoid common mistakes on scholarships applications.

Don't submit your application until you have had someone else proofread it

You want to put your best foot forward for the scholarship committee. They don't want to award the scholarship to someone who doesn't take the time to make sure their essay doesn't have a zillion typos or who misspells the name of the scholarship five times. Before you turn in your scholarship application, it's a good idea to ask a parent, a teacher, or a counselor to take a look at any essays. Even if you are a top-notch writer and proofreader, it often helps to have a fresh set of eyes look over your scholarship application.

Make sure you answer the questions being asked

The scholarship committee has selected the questions on the application for a reason. There are certain qualities they want from their scholarship recipients. If they ask you to write about an experience where you overcame an obstacle, don't write your scholarship essay about how your dad is your hero. It's easy for a scholarship committee to tell when you wrote an essay for a class and just copied and pasted it into the application form, ignoring what the question is really asking.

Read the directions carefully

Don't assume that every scholarship application is the same. Each scholarship has its own deadlines and its own requirements. Slow down and take a minute to read the directions on the scholarship application. If they want all materials submitted by March 31, chances are that you are wasting your time submitting a scholarship application on May 1. If you're unsure about something, contact the organization offering the scholarship. A little time upfront can often save you lots of time and help you avoid headaches down the road.

Double-Check to make sure you are submitting all required materials

Most scholarships get more qualified applicants than they can award money to. It's often a tough process picking who should win a scholarship award. One way to make it easier for the scholarship committee is to turn in an incomplete application. While some organizations may be nice enough to track you down and ask you to submit any missing information, I wouldn't count on it.

Only apply if you qualify

It sounds so obvious yet I've seen so many scholarship applications where a student simply ignored the eligibility criteria. You may really want to win that $10,000 scholarship, but if you don't qualify, you're wasting your time by applying. Focus on scholarships where you have a chance to win rather than hoping that the committee won't notice you are a college freshman not a high school senior.

Scholarships can be a great way to bring down the cost of college so don't ruin your chances by being making these common mistakes.

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