Scholarships are a great and necessary tool in making a college education more accessible and affordable. Unfortunately every year thousands of students are disqualified or not awarded scholarships because of simple mistakes. Below are 5 of the most common scholarship application mistakes college hopefuls make and how you can avoid them.
#1: Missing Deadlines
Missed deadlines is one of the most common ways students disqualify themselves from scholarship opportunities. You can submit the best essay, but if it is after the deadline, you likely won't even be considered for the award. To avoid missing any scholarship deadlines add reminders to your phone or computer calendar a few days prior to the deadlines or keep track of them in a physical planner.
#2 Not Proofreading Your Essay
In the age of Grammerly and Microsoft Word's proofreading tool, proofreading your essay is easier than ever. However, students should still manually proofread any essays prior to submitting your application to ensure the language flows and any colloquialism was not accidentally corrected during computerized auto-edits. Remember, your essay will in many cases be the equivalent of your interview with the scholarship board, so it is imperative to put your best foot forward.
#3 Failing To Send In All Required Documentation
Each scholarship is different and may have unique eligibility and application requirements. This is why it is essential to carefully read the details of each scholarship before your submission to ensure you fully complete the application and include all required documentation. Failure to do so will likely result in your immediate disqualification.
#4 Underestimating The Power of Character References and Letters of Recommendation
Letters of Recommendation or character reference letters are an often underestimated tool in the scholarship application process. These documents provide scholarship committees with a more complete view of who you are beyond your grade point average and essay. Whether from your pastor, teachers, work supervisor, or neighbors, including these letters will give you an edge over other students that neglect to add them.
#5 Paying To Play
Unfortunately there's a growing number of scholarship scams that seek to take advantage of college hopefuls in dire need of financial aid to attend college. These scams often time make promises of guaranteed scholarships in exchange for an application fee or membership fee. If you are considering applying for a scholarship or signing up for a scholarship matching tool and it requires you to pay any money, head for the hills. Remember, scholarships are about giving you money, not taking it from you.
If you haven't yet, be sure to submit your application for the Jean-Pierre Ayala Scholarship.