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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.
Thank you so much, Christina, for taking the time to answer my many questions!
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.
What is your best essay tip?
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.
[ Parents! Help your student find their perfect college match HERE]
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!
>>> DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF HOW TO WIN COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS HERE <<<
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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 regard 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. She teaches them how to apply S.M.A.R.T. with outstanding results.
Monica’s scholarship tips have been featured on many prominent websites, and she has been dubbed the “Go-To” expert on college scholarships.
I agree wholeheartedly with the tips especially getting somebody to proofread your essay for typos/grammar checks. So important. I always read through my son’s homework and point out the mistakes – sometimes he corrects them, other times he doesn’t!
It’s funny how our brain fills in missing words and we don’t see some of our own typos. Thanks for reading and commenting, Linda!
Reading through your interesting post made me realise how “far away” I am from all that. If you haven’t got any children yourself, you don’t know a lot about all this anymore. I am always shocked about the high expenses for the schoolbooks and materials parents have to pay for. If I see how much money my brother has to pay for his little boy every year on new school books, shouldn’t the best education possible be available for all?? Having children is getting really expensive, isn’t it?!
Hi Klaudia. Yes, expensive but very rewarding! Thanks for stopping by my site! 🙂
WHO KNEW? As usual, some really great information for parents and high schoolers.
Thank you, Carol! 🙂
It’s nice that you get the scoop straight from the source, Monica!!
I’ve told more than one person about your site because it’s so informative (and that was before I was in this group!)
Thanks, Jodie! I love picking the smart brains of college scholarship judges. Their information is priceless!
As I often say, I wish you were around with this advice when I was applying to college. The guidance counselors knew a little, but not much. I bought some huge book and just went through all the scholarships, listed alphabetically, and tried to figure out which ones might work for me. You make this much easier for “these kids today!” 🙂
Part of the reason that I do what I do with helping kids win scholarships is because I had no direction in high school and graduated from college with a ton of student debt. Hearing from families that use the strategies in my college scholarship guides with success is so rewarding!
Christina seems to have quite a bit of common sense on board and it is nice to know what judges of scholarships are looking for. It seems like kids who pay attention to details, use good grammar and present themselves as classy individuals will have the edge indeed!
I completely agree, Molly. Thank you for reading and sharing your insights!
Good, common sense advice – I bet a lot of people miss these things though!
Right, so basic, but often ignored. Thanks for reading!
THis post is amazing! I bet this job of a scholarship judge is so interesting!
Thank you! It is fascinating to be a scholarship judge, but for me it’s hard because I want to pick all the students who apply well and impress me.
Can’t tell you how much I wish I’d had this information, all in one place and easy to understand, 3 years ago. I have a few friends I need to pass this on to.
Thanks for sharing my scholarship information, Karen. If you have a student currently in college, he or she can still win scholarships!
Thank you for a lot of helpful information! I have a HS junior that may be applying in the next 6 months to college, and I am trying to get all the scholarship information as much as possible. We experienced a need based financial aid in the past, but this merit and other “scholarship” info in general is a whole new game. I am still learning about it. Thanks again and please keep it up!
You are very welcome! Starting the scholarship process with a high school junior is SMART! Don’t hesitate to reach out anytime with your scholarship questions.
This advice is can be applied to other writing/funding applications as well.
Yes, it can. Thanks, Lorna! 🙂