A students’ tips for acing scholarship applications

Written by:Mirella Barrera-Betancourt

As of Nov. 1 2022, Western’s General Scholarship Application is open for students seeking financial aid for the 2023-2024 academic year, with a deadline of Mar. 1. If students are discouraged from applying for scholarships, they are not alone. Scholarships tend to be highly competitive, making it seem as if the odds of being awarded one are slim to none. Here are six tips to help make scholarship applications less daunting.

Make an impression. This may seem obvious, but the standard for neatness and specificity in scholarship essays is often ignored. These attributes encompass many aspects of the application process. When filling out scholarship forms, the key is to formulate a chain of working drafts, working off one form in order to perfect the other. When writing an essay, include concrete details and examples of one’s accomplishments. A good rule of thumb to make the writing process smoother is to include the standard “who,” “what,” “where,” “when” and “why.”

Create a list of your good traits. Today, there are scholarships available for nearly every individual trait, from nationality, one’s spoken languages, first generation students and students who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Students often believe that applying for a broader, general scholarship increases their chances of being awarded. However, students who apply for trait-specific scholarships have a smaller pool of applicants to compete against.

Apply for small awards. If there is a scholarship that fits one’s qualifications but is offering a small award, don’t overlook it. Small awards can add up quickly. In addition, small awards tend to have less competition than larger awards.

Take advantage of ScholarshipUniverse. ScholarshipUniverse, available through the WOU portal, includes an integrated search engine for more than 8000 scholarship opportunities. ScholarshipUniverse has an integrated questionnaire, which narrows down scholarships according to the student’s qualifications and individual traits.

Complete the full application, including the optional work. Many scholarship applications provide students with “optional” application materials, such as essays, letters of recommendation, or even something humorous, such as a joke. While it may sound exhausting to complete this additional and very much optional piece of work, it may increase one’s chances of being awarded against more qualified applicants who failed to complete it.

Reapply. Scholarships are not a one-time deal. Even if a student fails to secure financial aid from a particular scholarship, it is wise to reapply. In fact, the next application process will roll out much smoother than the first application process, considering the student is already well-versed in the process.

Contact the author at howlnews@wou.edu