As the average cost of post-secondary education has more than doubled in the last two decades, so too has the need for financial aid. Scholarships have always been attractive to students, but a common misconception is that you must excel in academics to be considered as a recipient. Did you know that scholarships are equally, if not more, attractive to businesses?
Awarding scholarships is a way for them to garner good public relations, with potential tax benefits hanging closely on the coat tails. For these reasons, more businesses are following suit, thereby increasing the number of scholarships available to students.
"Many students assume they need great GPA’s or test scores to qualify for scholarships, when in reality, there are many scholarship committees out there that do not even consider the academic qualifications of the students," said Lori Grandstaff, vice president of operations and cofounder of Scholarship Experts.
Although submission requirements often include the request of transcripts; this does not necessarily mean that the decision will be based on merit. The committee may want to see what kind of classes the applicant is taking or how many credit hours in which the applicant is enrolled.
"Scholarships can be awarded based on community involvement, writing skills, the clubs and associations students or parents belong to, major or career interests, etc," said Grandstaff.
Scholarships currently featured on ScholarshipExperts.com range from need based to creative interpretation to racial/social activism. One contest requires entries to submit a short film, less than five minutes, interpreting the theme, "One Person Can Make a Difference." This contest is sponsored by christophers.org, and offers eight prizes totalling $6,500.
Another contest, sponsored by TheLincolnForum.org, requires a 1,500 to 5,000 word essay based on how history might have changed if President Abraham Lincoln had never been assassinated. With a vast array of scholarships available, the opportunity to receive one is there.
You must realize that thousands of students may apply for each scholarship contest. Contests that require judging of individual applications take much more time for the judges to review than they do for you to enter. The key point here is to make your entry one that is easy for them to remember.
Reviewing scholarship contest qualifications and/or essays can be a tedious process for the selection committee. Just imagine reading 1,000 word essays from more than 1,500 applicants. Do you think you can still remember the message of essay number 306, 409, or even 1,002? When entering any contest that will be judged, pay attention to the rules. If the rules tell you that ‘Entries will be judged on grammar,’ have someone other than yourself proofread your essay.
If the rules specify "Entries will be judged on creativity," then think of ways how your entry can differ from your competition. This can be a fun alternative from the norm. You can substitute an essay with a poem. A common technique is the use of analogies. In order to use analogies successfully, they must be appropriate to your subject.
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