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College Scholarship Judge Reveals Winning Secrets
This college scholarship judge shares with parents and their students exactly what needs to be done to win more money for school. College scholarship seekers should always look for ways to improve their applications to help them get noticed and chosen by the judges.
Here are five winning secrets from JR Vazquez, a college scholarship judge and recipient of over $250,000 in scholarships.
Students that take this advice to heart will improve their scholarship applications and increase their chances of winning money for college.
What is the first thing a scholarship judge looks for in a scholarship application?
The very first thing most judges look at in a college scholarship application is the essay, as this gives the best picture of the candidate. Next, judges look at the letters of recommendation, followed by standardized (ACT/SAT) test scores and grade point average (GPA), if applicable.
What do college scholarship judges want to see in their applicants?
Scholarship judges look for applicants with grit, focus, and depth. Grit shows a student who has worked hard to get somewhere and will always grab a judge’s attention. Focus shows an applicant who best fits the ideal candidate and what the sponsoring organization is looking for in their winner.
Scholarship applications are not the same as college admissions applications.
A student who shows depth is heavily involved in one extracurricular activity, rather than being barely involved in five different ones. Specific projects help showcase this on scholarship applications.
[You may also like to read: 4 Simple Steps to Impress College Scholarship Judges.]
What are the red flags in scholarship applications that get them quickly eliminated?
Red flags are incomplete applications with blank spaces and/or unanswered questions. Also, students who do not pay attention to what scholarship they are applying for.
An example of this would be referring to the National Honor Society Scholarship in an essay written for the Foot Locker Scholarship. Another red flag is when students fail to answer the essay question completely.
How important do you think the essay is in a scholarship application, and why?
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There is no single factor more important to the judges than the scholarship essay. Since less than 1% of private scholarships include personal interviews, the essay is the only way an applicant can express themselves to the judges.
Scholarship essays allow students to define themselves for the judges and target their audience.
What are your most important scholarship essay tips?
Students need to know their audience. They can do this by researching the organization offering the scholarship. In order to get noticed by the judges, students must be thorough and cross every “T” and dot every “i.”
Mistakes get noticed and have a big impact on selection decisions. Students must apply and compete for every scholarship in which they qualify and not assume they are not good enough to be picked as a winner.
The student who crafts his or her narrative and theme to fit the scholarship and highlights the aspects that are important to the judges is going to definitely get noticed.
The first paragraph of the essay should capture the judges’ attention. It needs to be personal and raw, as long as it fits with the question or theme of the scholarship guidelines. Students also need to make the letter of recommendation writer fit the scholarship.
For example, a religious based scholarship should have a pastor or priest writing the letter. A great choice for a business scholarship letter of recommendation writer would be someone from the local chamber of commerce that is familiar with the applicant.
[You can learn how to write a winning college scholarship essay here.]
We cannot waiver on the required submission content. Review thoroughly what is to be included in letters of recommendation, written essay, and on the resume.
My grading scale strictly follows each bullet point under the selection criteria. Every year I see deserving candidates who immediately lose needed points because they do not follow the directions.”
For fantastic college scholarship tips, advice, and winning strategies get your copy of How to Win College Scholarships by clicking HERE.
My daughter has won over $32,000 in scholarships so far! When she gets tired of applying, I remind her that she has made over $200 an hour so far and that gets her excited again. She is my second daughter to use the ideas in your scholarship guide with success. – Proud Dad
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.
Thanks for this information. I’m going to share it with all the families I know with college bound kids.
Wonderful, thanks Jennifer!
The point about depth is interesting – I imagine a lot of students think that they should get involved in lots of things to look ‘well rounded’, but personally I think it makes sense that judges would be more interested in people showing genuine commitment and focus on something they are really interested in.
Exactly! Judges can tell when students are just volunteering to add fluff to their applications. They are much better off finding a cause that they actually do care about and showing commitment through actively helping out over a period of several years.
These are all important facts to know about finding and landing scholarships . I would have loved to know you years ago when our son was applying to college. Great work.
Thanks, Cathy! Feel free to share with your friends and family that still have students in college or are college-bound.
Even though I’m done with this stage, I’m going to share this with my brother. He has 4 kids and they could use these tips. Thank you!
That would be great, Lori! Your brother will surely need financial help sending those 4 kids to college. 🙂
The answer about the essay is particularly important. I’m glad to read it stated so clearly.
I’m glad what I wrote was nice and clear. That’s exactly the kind of feedback that I need. Thanks, Anna!
Thanks so much, Monica. Wish I had this information when my kids were in high school. Very valuable.
You’re welcome, Laurie! Feel free to share with friends who have younger students.
Monica, you are such an amazing resource. I wish I had had this information when my kids were college-bound. You would have saved me so much time and energy!
Thank you so much, Helene! I am so excited to be able to help other parents who were just like me when my son was on the scholarship hunt. 🙂
Great post! Helene, it is important to remember that financial scholarships are only for families whose finances are truly stretched when their children attend college.
Great info to share with students, teachers, school counselors and parents!
Thank you, Lee!
So much good information here! I wish I’d read this before our kids started college. They’ve both graduated now but, boy, did we spend a fortune on school for them.
Well, I’ll bet you’ll have grandkids someday that could use my info. 🙂 Thanks for the kind words about my scholarship guide, Lois!
Where was this stuff when I was off to college? Great informative post that all college parents and students should read up on.
Thank you, Gary!
Such smart info. Here’s hoping I can make use of it for my daughter when her turn comes!
Thank you, Lisa! I’ll be here when you and your daughter are ready to begin the scholarship process. 🙂