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10 Epic Tips Straight from a College Scholarship Judge
How about we ask a scholarship judge what students can do to win more money for school?
Scholarship money can make a HUGE difference in the price of college for parents and their students.
Well, you’re in luck because that is exactly what I have for you today!
I recently had the pleasure of discussing what scholarship judges look for in their winners with Christina Schanda.
Christina is the co-founder of ScholarPrep. She and her daughter, Jordan, developed ScholarPrep after Jordan’s successful yet, overwhelming and stressful, experience applying for college and scholarships.
At that same time, Christina was serving on review boards as a scholarship judge and discovered what students were doing wrong, which parts of the applications they were struggling with the most, and was shocked when several scholarships went unawarded because not a single student applied.
They created the ScholarPrep Organizer, a comprehensive planning tool that fully supports students throughout the entire college-readiness process, beginning their freshman year of high school.
What is the very first thing that you notice about each scholarship application?
When I was on scholarship review committees, many of the applications were handwritten, so the overall appearance was the first thing I would notice. For example, did you take care to write neatly, not fold the papers, and fill in all the blanks completely.
What is one important way that students can most impress scholarship judges?
Scholarship judges want to understand you. The more they know about how you spend your time the better. Does your student work, volunteer, play sports or an instrument? Also, does the presentation of your application show attention to detail and care taken when filling out the application? The details matter!
How important is the scholarship essay to a college scholarship judge?
The essay is very important unless the scholarship is awarded strictly on some other basis, such as financial need. The essay is the best way for the scholarship committee to hear your “voice” and to get a sense of who you are – what are your interests, passions, hobbies, skills, goals and dreams.
My best essay tip: have someone look over your essay! Typos are not acceptable. Have an English teacher or someone with a strong command of grammar check and recheck your essay. Also, adhere to the guidelines given in the instructions as far as length and subject matter.
[You may also like to read: Scholarship Judge Reveals Winning Secrets]
Have you ever used social media to look deeper into the character of a scholarship applicant?
When I was on scholarship review committees, we did not look on social media, but these were for small, local scholarships. University or larger corporate scholarships may check social media so it is important that your social media presence be in good taste.
How can students increase their chances of winning the scholarships they apply for?
Plan ahead! Start as a freshman to plan the type of high school experience you want to have that will benefit your college scholarship application process.
Is it obvious if a student has lied or stretched the truth on their application?
It should go without saying that you should always be truthful on your applications. Local scholarships often have review committees made up of people that may know you or your family or friends. This makes it easy to check information to confirm your honesty. Filling out scholarship applications is a similar process to filling out job applications, facts and information provided can be checked. You should never misrepresent yourself.
How can a student in desperate need of scholarship money best convey this to the judges?
Most applications that are based on financial need will rely on the tax and or income information to demonstrate your financial situation. However, some applications will have a section where you can provide extenuating personal or family circumstances that could be taken into consideration. But most of the time, strictly financial need scholarships are based on a formula.
After reviewing an impressive scholarship application, what sticks out most in your mind?
Attention to detail and the sense that you have used high school to plan for the future. Your application is a reflection of your high school experience, involvement and who you are as a person.
What is your very best piece of advice as a college scholarship judge for students who are trying to win scholarships?
Apply for as many scholarships as possible. The more that your high school information is organized, the easier and less time consuming the scholarship application process will be. Keep your ScholarPrep Organizer or other system up to date all through high school and be aware of the impression you are going to give to scholarship committees. BE ORGANIZED and plan ahead!
Monica Matthews is the author of How to Win College Scholarships. She helped her own son win over $100,000 in college scholarships and now shares her expertise with other parents and their students. She truly has “been there, done that” in regards to helping parents and students navigate the scholarship process.
Her method of helping students in finding college scholarships, writing unique and compelling scholarship essays, creating amazing scholarship application packets and more, have taught desperate parents to help their own students win thousands of scholarship dollars.
Monica’s scholarship tips have been featured on many prominent websites and she has been dubbed the “Go-To” expert on college scholarships.