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College Scholarship Red Flags to Avoid at All Costs

There are two types of college scholarship red flags. One is scholarship scams, and the other is what a judge sees when reading student applications and essays.

College Scholarship Red Flags to Avoid at All Costs

Students and their parents who are searching for ways to help pay for higher education need to be aware of college scholarship red flags.

Finding and applying for scholarships takes precious time, so learning what not to do when trying to win money for college is KEY.

There are two types of scholarship red flags to avoid at all costs.

  1. Scams for fake awards that waste a student’s time and possibly money
  2. Student mistakes or actions that tip off the judges and compel them to reject the student as their scholarship winner

I have written about the first red flag, scholarship scams, in a few different blog posts and consulted with experts who closely work with students in the scholarship and financial aid sector.

Safely compare student loan options for college with no commitment.Find vital information on scholarship scams here:

3 Ways to Quickly Spot Fake Scholarships and Scams 

The other type of college scholarship red flags involve the judges and committees that read student applications and essays.

These are mistakes that students make all too often and cause scholarship applications to get quickly tossed into the reject pile.

As a judge for the Savor Summer College Scholarship, and in my 15 years of researching how to help students win scholarships, here is what students should avoid and be aware of when filling out and submitting scholarship applications.

Some of these may sound crazy to you, but I assure you that I have personally witnessed all of these careless mistakes:

Spelling “Scholarship” wrong on the outer envelope for mailed-in application packets

  • Proofread, Proofread, Proofread!
  • Have at least two pairs of trusted eyes to proofread

College scholarships are everywhere!

Addressing an essay to the wrong organization

  • Double-check that the name in the scholarship essay is actually the name of the scholarship being applied for
  • Use these tips when recycling scholarship essays

Two spaces between sentences in the essay

  • Students are now taught there is ONE space, and two spaces indicate a parent has over-edited or even written the essay for the student.
  • If a judge suspects the student has not written the essay, into the reject pile it goes.

Handwritten applications

  • Most scholarship applications can be typed into and then printed out before mailing.
  • If a typing option is not available, there are many free apps, extensions, and tools that will easily convert a PDF file to a Word document.
  • Students who don’t bother finding a way to type into scholarship applications indicate laziness to the judges.

Abbreviations or the use of text-like answers

  • A scholarship judge who does not text or know what an abbreviation stands for will be frustrated trying to decipher what a student is trying to share.
  • Text-like answers in a scholarship application form are just wrong on several levels, don’t do it!

There are many more scholarship red flags that signal to the judges that the student does not deserve to be the winner of their award, and I share these in great detail in my How to Win College Scholarships ebooks found here.

To win more money for college, students need to get into the judges’ minds as much as possible and tailor their applications, essays, and letters of recommendation to the organization offering the scholarship money.

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You may also like to read 10 Epic Tips Straight from a College Scholarship Judge.

What are parents saying about How to Win College Scholarships?


“These ebooks took what was bound to be a very overwhelming experience and turned into a very rewarding and easy experience. We didn’t have a clue as to even how to get started applying for a scholarship.

Thanks to Monica and what we learned in the How to Win College Scholarships ebooks our son received a HUGE scholarship with a paid internship. Thank you so much!” H.H., Parent

All of my winning scholarship strategies are found right here >>

THAT is how more scholarships are won!

Students and their parents who are searching for ways to help pay for higher education need to be aware of college scholarship red flags. Click To Tweet


College scholarship red flags to avoid at all costs

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