8 Tips to Winning College Scholarships

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Published On:
February 01, 2019

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Free money to finance your college expenses…that’s exactly what a college scholarship does for you!

Soaring college costs make scholarships an essential part of the planning process, and by now you’ve probably been encouraged by high school counselors to start applying for them. But they do take time, and time is money. Consider this: most college scholarships range from $1,000 to $5,000, and if you spend 4 hours working on an essay, and win a college scholarship worth $2,000, that works out to $500 per hour of your time. Not a bad deal, right?

Arbor Financial wants you to win, so we’ve compiled some tips to share that can increase the odds of nailing your essay and winning those scholarships!

1.  Proofread. Proofreading is essential to creating a powerful and winning essay. When proofreading, you should not only check for correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling, but also to ensure completeness, accuracy, and flow of content. It’s always advisable to ask an adult or friend to read your final essay, review for correctness, and to provide feedback to help you improve the essay.

2.  Make it personal and be honest.  Some of the best essays are written from the heart while sharing a compelling story about the writer’s life or experience. By making the essay personal, you also make it important and memorable. Remember to not write about what you think you should write about, but rather what interests you. The reader will sense when you are being honest and will connect with you on a more personal and genuine level when you share honest stories.

3.  Beat the deadline. You’ve probably heard this a thousand times by now. It’s tempting to wait until the last minute to write and submit an essay. But by waiting until the last minute, you minimize your time to proofread thoroughly, to ask others to proofread, to receive feedback, and to incorporate feedback into your essay. Procrastinating may leave you in the position of rushing through it, setting yourself up for silly mistakes that could cost you, or simple formatting errors that could get you disqualified. Set yourself up for success and give yourself the time you need to write a winning essay--beat those deadlines!

4.  Grab the reader’s attention. Open your essay with a strong attention-getting sentence and set the scene.  This is your opportunity to capture the attention of the reader. Some ways to grab attention could include asking a question, use of emotion, making a bold statement. It’s important to hook the reader, so they stay engaged throughout your essay.

5.  Repurpose your essay.  Don’t feel like you have to write a new essay for every scholarship, but don’t just re-use the same essay either. Instead, repurpose the essay and edit it to fit several scholarship topics. This will save a lot of time.

6.  Follow the essay instructions.  Every scholarship will have specific instructions, and if you are in scholarship applying mode, this means really paying attention to details. It’s important to follow the instructions exactly as they’re stated, otherwise, just like in real life, you could be disqualified before you even begin. You’re too smart for that!

7.  Stay within the word count. Too much money is at stake to be potentially disqualified because of word count. You may need to elaborate more on certain points or on the flipside you may need to be more concise with your writing. Either way, check the final word count and make sure you are within the range before you send your essay.

8.  Stay focused on the topic.  To help you stay on topic, try writing a thesis statement. A good thesis should be concise and offer the main point of the essay. It will be the central idea to communicate to the reader. Ask yourself, what is the point of my essay? Answer this in one sentence, and that can be your thesis.

Scholarships are abundant, and here at Arbor Financial, we will be awarding twelve $2,000 scholarships to high school seniors in the state of Michigan. We believe strongly in the value of higher education, and proudly enhance opportunities and advancement through our Community Scholarship Program. You can also find and take full advantage of many other available scholarships right here in Kalamazoo County.

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