Thinking about applying to scholarships to help reduce the cost of college? Wondering if you have any chance of winning?
Here’s something to give you perspective: you applying for a scholarship and a dog trying to skateboard are more similar than you think.
It may seem impossible for a cute canine to shred on a skateboard and for you to win any scholarship money. But when that dog puts all four paws on the board and when you put any effort into applying, you may just find that it’s more possible than you originally assumed.
But one thing is for certain – if Fido never tries, he doesn’t have a chance to skateboard. And if you don’t apply, you have a 100 percent chance of receiving zero dollars.
Does this mean that everyone who applies for scholarships will win? No, but that doesn’t mean you should eliminate this potential source of free college money.
Why You May Not Win a Scholarship
There are many reasons why most people never win a scholarship, including:
- Not following the scholarship rules
- Applying for awards they are not eligible to receive
- Submitting essays that don’t address the scholarship topic
- Multiple grammatical errors throughout the application and/or essay
- Sending in materials/applications after the deadline date
The number one reason why most people do not win a scholarship is that they give up after applying to just a few programs.
Think of scholarships like training for the NFL; you wouldn’t expect to be drafted after playing in just a few high school games, would you? It takes years of dedication and day-to-day training to perfect your skills to play at the highest level, but the reward is definitely worth the effort.
The same is true for scholarships. It takes time, dedication, and experience to win.
If you’re still not convinced scholarships are worth the effort, consider this – even if you spend 20 hours applying to scholarships and only win one $1,000 award, you just earned $50 an hour. That’s a sweet return on your time investment.
Of course, there are some things you can do to help optimize your time and increase your chances of winning.
How to Increase Your Chances of Winning Scholarship Money
1. Treat Scholarships Like a Part-Time Job
In other words, set aside time each week to search and apply for scholarships. Just a few hours per week can help you knock out one or two applications, as well as identify new programs you’d like to apply to later.
2. More Work = Less Competition
Most students don’t want to write lengthy essays or fill out long scholarship applications, which means the number of applicants decreases as the work requirement increases. A little “sweat equity” could pay out big rewards, if you’re not afraid to put in the work.
3. Recycle & Reuse
Many scholarship programs have similar essay prompts, so you can easily make a few tweaks to a former writing sample to fit another. Just be sure to review it carefully, removing all mentions of the previous scholarship, before hitting submit.
4. Follow Your Passions
Don’t waste time completing scholarship applications for subjects you have no interest in at all. Why? It will feel like work and you’re less likely to put forth your best effort. Instead, find the scholarship programs that speak to you. You’ll have fun applying and increase your chances of winning.
5. Search Locally
Free scholarship search tools, such as Fastweb.com, are a great resource for finding scholarships, but many often miss the smaller, local awards. Don’t forget to check out employers, civic groups and other organizations in your area to see what scholarship opportunities you might be missing.
Remember, Success Takes Effort
Robert Collier once said, “Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.” This is especially true when it comes to scholarship applications.
Most students won’t win immediately out the gate; it takes time to hone your writing skills and craft a winning scholarship essay. Expect to apply to multiple scholarships each month, throughout high school and college, if you want to find success.
In fact, your scholarship search doesn’t have to end when you finish college. To help you pay off your student loan balances, MoneySolver now offers student loan debt scholarships, including a $2,500 Student Loan Forgiveness Scholarship.
So, if at first you don’t succeed, think of this dog skateboarding and give it another try.
Apply, apply and apply again, because scholarships are most definitely worth the effort!