Many students think that they have done the work of getting an academic scholarship by getting to their senior year with a high Grade Point Average (GPA). The fact is, if you want to increase your chances of landing an academic scholarship, you need to think of it as another, separate, full-time job. Getting the grades is just the beginning.
The same disciplines that put you at the head of your class will be needed to put you at the head of the line for an academic scholarship. That means not only working longer and harder than others, but smarter too. Although you have to start the same way as anyone else by gathering information from the Internet, your local library and school, local businesses, service organizations and other sources you need to go the extra mile.
Your chances of landing an academic scholarship increase in relation to your increased efforts. Basic Internet research is not enough, for example. You need to go to the large online scholarship databases that match your student profile to potential funds. There are millions of listings, and most services are free. A few special tips and tweaks concerning your use of these databases, or other Internet sources, will increase your chances of finding a good match:
1. Search criteria will vary according to the specific site, so have all of your information at hand when you begin.
2. Make multiple searches with slightly altered profiles that focus on your different strengths and achievements.
3. Expand your geographical search area.
4. Declare different majors (and minors) in various orders and combinations.
These tips can increase your chances of landing an academic scholarship that may have been missed had you used just a single profile to describe yourself. Remember that people may describe the same thing in very different ways, and try to put yourself in the position of the person writing the listing(s).
It is important to do the old-fashioned kind of search as well by phone and in person so that you do not miss out on any local opportunities, which by and large are less competitive than national scholarship offers. And don’t forget to check with the employers, alma maters, business associations and interest groups that your family, friends and friends families belong to.
Extend the concept of working smart to the application process, too. You should apply smart by getting the applications long before the submission deadlines. Also, apply for as many as you can, regardless of the size of the scholarship or your chances of getting it. If you do not win one large award, perhaps you can put a funding package together with a number of smaller ones.
Keep track of everything you do. Be organized and make notes about what you submitted and when. It is also important to begin practicing for interviews early in the process. You need to have a firm grasp of your strong points, your goals, your reasons for choosing a particular school and a particular course of study and you need to be able to communicate all of it clearly and persuasively when the time comes. And the time will come quicker than you might imagine.
It has been said, repeatedly and by many people, that applying for scholarships is serious business. You certainly do need to treat it seriously, and that means dedicating the appropriate amount of time and energy to being thorough. If you really want to know how to increase your chances of landing an academic scholarship, just review the disciplines and strategies that made you a successful student then add an extra dose of diligence and resolve. Like anything else in life, success will come if you are persistent, consistent and insistent.