Avoid mistakes that affect your college scholarship

A college education can be a distant dream for many who aren't financially competent. With the current rise in education expenses, many students find themselves in massive debts seeking financial aid through loans. The Pew Research Centre reports that about one-third of adults under 30 have outstanding student loans even several years after they’ve completed their education.

Student loan debt
Source: Pew Research Center

While you may still be able to afford college education with a student loan, you might spend most of your adult life paying it back. This is the primary reason why scholarships are the best sources for financial aid to fund higher education.

While thinking about securing a scholarship is easy, actually winning it is a different ball game. Scholarships usually involve an intricate process to finalize on the ideal candidate. There are several mistakes that a student can make while applying for such scholarships. The panels going through your application not only analyze your content for originality and purpose but also follow several scrutiny measures to judge it. With so many hidden factors in the equation, a simple mistake can bleak your chances. What you can do is develop an understanding of such common errors and avoid them in your applications.

Mistakes students often make when applying for College Scholarships

Here are some of the common mistakes that students often make while applying for scholarships:

  • Applying to every scholarship available

It's common thinking among students that the more scholarships they apply to, the better their chances are of securing one. While it may be true in some cases, more often than not, increasing the volume of applications to a number that you can't efficiently handle can hamper your chances. With a large number of applications, you will often have to deal with overlapping due dates. As a result, you will always be rushing instead of taking the appropriate time to refine your application. Compromising on quality may not be a good idea when a panel is looking for the best candidates to fill a few spots.

Maintaining a balance in the number of applications you submit is the key here. You don't want to be in a situation where you apply to a few scholarships and miss out, nor would you want to apply to too many leading to an overwhelmed schedule. Apply to scholarships that effectively cater to your strengths and interests. Knowing your limits is always advisable when exhausting yourself through countless scholarship applications.

  • Not considering eligibility criteria and instructions

A lot depends on the eligibility criteria when applying for scholarships. You will be surprised to know the number of students who waste time applying for scholarships that they aren't even eligible for in the first place. You would want to carefully review all the information that is mentioned as requirements for the scholarship. If you do not qualify for a particular scholarship, pass on it. You can't fill out applications for such scholarships and expect no one would notice. With scholarships, you can be sure of one thing – there are people in the panel that monitor even the minutest details of the application. And if something doesn't feel alright, the application is rejected.

  • Providing uninspiring content and inattentive writing

Most students don't spend enough time refining the content of their essays, which leads to uninspiring content. What they don't realize is that a lot depends on the kind of tone you adopt while applying for a scholarship. Be it essays or application; you would want to maintain a positive outlook towards things. It would be best if you highlight your strengths, and even when you mention your flaws, define them in a way that inspires others to overcome such obstacles.

Picking an enticing topic for your essays is equally essential. You should be able to put together creative content that the reader must be drawn into. While several applicants are waiting in line, the selection panel will not spare a minute to reject your application if your writing skills are not up to the mark.

  • Not allotting enough time to proofread application and essay 

A lot of mistakes, such as spelling and grammatical errors, can be avoided by carefully reviewing the application and essay at each stage. If you're under the impression that you got everything right the first time, believe us, you are mistaken. Applying with silly mistakes will surely hamper your chances of bagging the award. It is suggested that every time you prepare a draft of your application and essay, you should at least review and proofread it two to three times.

While drafting the application, make sure you thoroughly cover all sections, even if one doesn't apply to you. Writing 'none' or 'not applicable' clarifies a lot of things for such parts. This will notify the reviewer that you don't have any relevant information to share for that section, and rather than conveying a misconception, you completely ignored this section. Always follow the read, review, repeat strategy. Mind you, there are chances that it may take several revisions to refine the perfect application.

  • Failing to meet deadlines

Deadlines are crucial, and they form an essential aspect of keeping you eligible for college scholarships. You might be the right candidate and might have written the best application, but it is useless if the submission is late. While there are several reasons for not acknowledging a late application, it gives an unfair advantage to other candidates. 

Planning is critical to avoid such blunders. Don't leave anything to the last minute; if you do, you will not only rush through the application process, but the content of your application will also suffer. It is advised to have a calendar in place to track the progress. This way, you can always plan and meet deadlines with ease.      

  • Letting your GPA slip post scholarship being awarded

Most scholarships are renewable, and if you let things like GPA and other requirements slip away, you might lose financial aid. It may sound unfortunate, but it is true. Each scholarship has some elements that you need to fulfill to stay in the scheme of things. While college life can be distracting, you can't let it nullify all the hard work that you've put in to secure it. If, at any point, you fail to meet the academic requirements, you may end up losing financial aid.

We would suggest remembering the bigger picture. You are in college for the education and the quality life you wish to build after graduation. Never let your grades take a dive and always stay ahead of deadlines when it comes to assignments. Keeping the focus on your studies should be your primary criterion.

A few small things that matter

In addition to avoiding the afore-mentioned errors, you need to keep these tiny details in mind too:

  1. Often students forget to enclose all documents with the application. You need to be sure that you don't forget any. For this, making a checklist works wonders. A quick look at the list and guidelines, and you can always keep things in check before sealing the envelope. Remember, submitting an incomplete application is worse than submitting a bad one.
  2. Make sure you double-check absolute essentials like your letters of recommendation and your essay. You would want to carefully place all the documents in an envelope that is large enough. Using staples and folding papers so that they can fit inside the envelope should be avoided. If documents are to be bonded, use paper clips.
  3. Make sure you have the right address printed on the envelope, avoid writing by hand as you might commit mistakes unknowingly. And if you can use a mailing service that confirms delivery and receipt of your application, you can be sure of your application reaching the right hands.
  4. Some applications might require you to provide your email address. Often students fill out wrong details or completely ignore this information. You need to remember that a lot of universities now rely on email communication to convey vital information. If you have provided the email id, make sure you check your inbox regularly. Also, you need to ensure that your mailbox is organized. You wouldn't want to miss important communication just because you aren't able to find the email.
  5. Often universities announce the results through their social media handles as well. You need to check all such digital sources of information regularly.

Final Word

Several common mistakes might hamper your chances of living your college dream. Having the right knowledge and planning in advance will increase your chances of getting the right financial aid and save you from endless paperwork that might never bring you success. With the information that we have mentioned above, you can educate yourself better to tackle the obstacles that you might face. You can feel confident about your application and content. You should also feel sure that not many people in your competition might have spent enough time on these points, consequently increasing your chances with the desired funding.

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