You have the power to create amazing things with a blank sheet of paper and a bit of black ink. The ability to translate your hard work, experiences and special qualities into a carefully constructed application is the key to making you shine on paper. You must be innovative and impactful even when the application process asks you stay inside the lines. You have to be able to sell yourself.
“Selling yourself, whether on paper or in person, is one of the best skills that you have, and it’s no different than selling any product or service,” said Greta Schulz, founder and CEO of Schulz Sales Consulting, a company who helps entrepreneurs and companies refine their selling processes. “You have to have confidence, you have to know how you’re going to benefit them, and you have to articulate yourself.
Remember that scholarship judges are looking for more than just qualified individuals who look busy on paper. They are looking for applicants whose submissions feel thorough and complete without being too wordy. They’re looking for inspiration, interest and excitement in your content and are seeking to find something that connects them to you. Connect those dots for the judges in a way that makes your application scream, “Don’t put me down!”
Here are just a few pointers that will help you produce an impressive and professional application that will successfully and truthfully reflect you.
Read and reread the instructions and qualifications necessary for the scholarship carefully. Many applications are chucked out immediately because they didn’t follow the specific guidelines. Don’t let something this simple be the cause for your disqualification.
Conduct the right kind of research
Research may seem like a simple concept and you’re probably already a pro with Google. However, if you conduct the right kind of research, you’ll be able to craft an application that is persuasive, timely and interesting for the judges.
Don’t stop after you’ve gotten some background on the scholarship. Dig deeper and research the organizations and people behind it as well as the judges and previous winners of the award. Knowing as much as possible will help you figure out what kind of qualities and experiences they value the most so you can highlight them in your application.
Ask if you can have a list of previous winners and do not be afraid to contact them. Their success is the most valuable insight you can gain before you begin to complete your own application.
Talk it out
It’s important to make a rough outline of what you want to accomplish. Talking with a friend or classmate about the scholarship is a great starting point because they can help you sift through and organize your thoughts. They’ll help you bounce some ideas around and point out characteristics and experiences you have that they think make you unique and qualified for the scholarship.
Own the Essay
Most of the scholarship applications you’ll fill out will require you to complete one or two short essays. This is the part where you get to be creative and let your personality come through and shine. But, this is also the part where your application can go down in flames.
Try to cut unnecessary words from your essays every time you proof them. Cluttered sentences can dilute the meaning and impact of your essays. Also, make sure you always use active verbs. You want to make a stand with your essays and boldly announce and promote your qualifications through fun and engaging anecdotes of your past experiences.
Find someone to proof your work
Once you’ve completed your application, ask a teacher to look over it to get a new perspective. Something that makes perfect sense to you may be lost upon different reader, and they can offer things that you might not have thought of. A great proofreader will also be able to help you tighten your sentences as well as point out spots in your application that may need more clarification. After you make your final touches, take a deep breath and be sure send your application in well before the required deadline.
About the Author
Vance Miller is a writer and blogger for Schulz Business. He depended on scholarships to help him through college, and he’s used sales techniques to help him stand out on applications.