College is important, but paying for college is one of the largest sources of debt many people have to face. Scholarships are crucial in heading that debt off at the pass. Here are some pointers for getting your piece of the pie.
Apply everywhere you're eligible.
There are people who pay for school entirely through small corporate scholarships. A few hundred dollars from Tylenol or $1,000 for writing an essay on cyberbullying can add up quickly, and the application pool for those out-of-the-way scholarships is a lot smaller than the pools for your average University-sponsored scholarship. That said, don't apply to places you're not eligible. You've got better things to do with your time, and so does the committee.
Use concrete examples.
Show, don't tell. Anybody can claim that volunteering is important to them, but not everyone can say that they spend every weekend at the soup kitchen. Whatever your thing is, own it. In an ever-growing sea of college applicants, you have to find a way to stand out, and the best way to do that is with experiences from your life - it's the one thing that you have that you know nobody else does.
Fill everything out.
This may sound obvious, but you don't want to miss out on $10,000 just because you were filling out a paper form and didn't realize there were questions on the back. If a question doesn't apply to you, write down that it's not applicable; don't just leave it blank. This is not a time when you can afford to look like someone who's lazy, or who doesn't pay attention to instructions. They're giving away large sums of money on nothing more than the assumption that the recipients will contribute to society. You need to make yourself look like a person who will.
Be careful repurposing essays.
Sure, there are a lot of deadlines, and a lot of writing to be done, and odds are that you're trying to graduate from high school, or finish your undergraduate degree, or whatever. Still, if you're going to be sloppy, there's no point in filling out the application. If adapting a previous essay can fit the parameters of the current essay, then great, use it as a starting point. But for your own sake, please, edit it. Tailor it to the situation. Cookie-cutter essays are obvious, and odds are you're handing it into an inundated, overworked reader who's desperate for reasons to toss an application out the window. Don't give them one.
Mind your deadlines.
You remember that point about how readers are looking for reasons not to read an application? Handing an application in late is the first and biggest reason to toss an application right into the trash. Whatever organizational system you need to keep track of deadlines, make it happen.