Scholarships remain one of the best ways to pay for a college education. And there are literally billions of dollars of scholarships out there that you can apply for. While there is a lot of advice on how to pursue scholarships, there are a few mistakes that nearly guarantee you won’t be considered. Here are three scholarship mistakes you should avoid at all costs.
Expecting Everyone Else to Do the Work
Applying for college should be seen as one of your steps to becoming an independent adult. Paying for it should be seen as an adult responsibility as well. Don’t ask your parents to fill out your scholarship application. They may devote the time, but they won’t necessarily be able to answer all the questions for you or to the best of your abilities.
Another mistake is expecting the high school guidance counselor to do all the research on scholarships for you. They tend to give you information on a few big national scholarships that they’ve handed to everyone else or point you to a list of local scholarships.
Do review the list of local scholarships the counselor’s office has, since they are something you could possibly win. However, you should do your own research for scholarships based on your career interests, side interests and where you want to go to school. Ask your teachers who sponsor extracurricular activities if they know of scholarships given to those who participate. You can check out a site like asmscholarships.com for athletic scholarships no matter what sport your play.
Only Going After the Big Scholarships
Don’t neglect little known scholarships that many ignore. Since they’re often overlooked, your chances of landing them are higher. Winning multiple smaller scholarships could still add up to paying your way through school, and since they’ll likely have varying terms, you may still receive at least a partial ride if your grades drop or you change majors. So, devote a lot of time to researching scholarships worth just a few hundred and few thousand dollars. You’re more likely to win them, and they’ll pay for the extras if you do manage to win the big one.
Not Understanding the Requirements
The first matter is understanding the scholarship eligibility requirements. If you don’t meet the eligibility requirements, they can disqualify you outright. Now you’ve wasted time applying for a scholarship that could have been spent applying for one you did qualify for. The second issue is understanding the instructions that go with the application. Take your time to understand them to improve the odds you’ll be considered.
A common variation of this mistake is recycling the same essays over and over again. Be careful of the questions asked as part of the essay. If your recycled essay only answers part of the question they ask, they’ll move on to the candidate who did take the time to answer it in full.
Scholarships are an excellent way to pay for college if you can secure one. Avoid these mistakes and your odds of receiving them have just gone up. Then the only mistake you have left to make is failing to apply or giving up too soon.