7 Tips for Applying for Scholarships

‘Tis the season for applying to college and graduate school – and figuring out how to pay for that future education. Here’s some advice to set you up for success:

  1. Start researching scholarships early
    You can start developing a list of potential scholarships in the 10th or 11th grade, but don’t worry if you’re already a senior! Different programs have different application start times and deadlines, so you just need to be aware of the dates. One good resource for a variety of scholarships is Foundation For The Carolinas, which manages more than 150 programs.
  2. Apply for multiple scholarships – large and small
    Don’t discount smaller scholarships – these dollars add up!
  3. Review the guidelines for applying – and only apply to those for which you qualify
    You don’t want to spend time and energy applying for scholarships that are not the right fit. If you are unsure about a specific guideline, reach out to the scholarship provider.
  4. Plan ahead
    It’s important to follow all directions and to submit what is requested by the deadline. Don’t wait until the last minute – your application will come across incomplete and rushed. If there’s a section of the application you are struggling to complete, this gives you time to reach out to the scholarship provider to have a conversation and determine a solution.
  5. Request letters of recommendation early
    This is related to tip No. 4 but deserves to be repeated. You should request letters well in advance from professionals who know you well and can speak to your accomplishments. They may be writing other recommendations, so be sure to give them plenty of time to complete and submit your request. They will also find it helpful if you can provide them with a list of your accomplishments, classes and organizations to help guide their letter.
  6. Write a great essay
    Your essay should make an impression and give the reader a sense of your personality, character and accomplishments. Make sure that you specifically address and answer the essay prompt given. Also, ask a teacher or advisor to proofread your essay for grammar errors, typos or other suggestions.
  7. Sing your own praises
    Be sure to highlight all your accomplishments in your resume and, if appropriate, your essay.

Good luck as you embark on this next, exciting chapter of your life!

Qiana Austin is Vice President & Scholarships Program Officer at Foundation For The Carolinas. She oversees more than 150 scholarship programs, as well as Foundation For Black Philanthropy.