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Scholarships are competitive. While some sites may promise you that millions of dollars go unclaimed each year, the vast majority of scholarship funds are awarded each year — and there plenty of students competing aggressively for them. If you want the best chance of finding financial aid for college, avoid these common scholarship mistakes:
1. Putting in Little Effort
Scholarships can mean big cash, and that means you have to work for them. Start applying for scholarships early and apply for every scholarship you qualify for. Don’t wait until the last minute and only apply for one or two — your chances of success will be low. Start applying for a scholarship well before the deadline and give it your best shot.
2. Applying for Scholarships You Don’t Qualify For
Apply for as many scholarships as you are eligible for, but don’t waste your time applying for scholarships where you don’t have a chance. If a scholarship requires a 3.9 GPA and you have a 3.5, you can be sure there lots of people with 4.0 GPAs applying. The chances of you winning simply aren’t there, and the effort you put into that scholarship application can be put into another application where you do have a chance.
3. Not Reading and Following Instructions
If a scholarship requires you to write an essay of 500 words, don’t write 100 words or 1,000 words. Write 500 words. Similarly, if a scholarship calls for a five-minute video or a recommendation letter, be sure to send those things in. Always read directions very carefully and double check to make sure you follow everything to the letter.
4. Not Looking Enough
Don’t just browse a few pages in an outdated scholarship resource book at the library and call it a day. Run an intensive search for all scholarships you may be eligible for. Talk to a financial aid office, contact associations your parents and you are involved with, and use reliable services to look for online listings of scholarships at no cost. The more scholarships you research, the more opportunities you may find.
Whether you’re applying for a scholarship requiring you to submit artwork, an essay or another submission, always go over your work again and again to catch any mistakes or areas that could use a little improvement. Sometimes, a few tweaks are all it takes to put you in the forefront.
It’s important to dive into the scholarship application process knowing what will give you your best shot — and how to avoid common scholarship mistakes. Good luck with your financial aid search!