13 ways to increase your chances of winning a scholarship:

  1. Don’t be afraid to try. In fact, try a lot. Apply to as many scholarships as you can. It’s a numbers game and even among the most accomplished students, luck is a factor. Don’t ignore the small stuff. Some scholarships worth $1,000 or less may only have 15 or 20 students applying.
  2. Start your research early.
  3. Get involved and stay involved in your community. Scholarship organizations are often looking for a commitment to volunteering.  This bias makes sense since many of these organizations are nonprofits who are committed to helping others, like you.
  4. Increase your odds by applying for less competitive scholarships. Your school guidance counselor may be able to connect you to local scholarship programs as well that have fewer students applying.
  5. Try for one of the more unusual scholarships. This is especially true if you are a more creative and artistic person and can let your specific talents shine.
  6. Use online scholarship services. There are so many scholarships out there, it is hard to keep track. We recommend Fastweb.com which is a personalized scholarship search engine. Here are some of the things they offer:
    • Scholarships just for you based on your strengths, interests and skills.
    • Resources to help you with tough financial aid decisions.
    • Discover the perfect school for your interests and budget.
    • Guidance to help you prepare for a promising future.
  7. Give the scholarship sponsors what they want. Don’t just stop at the criteria they specify. Do some research about their organization and what they stand for. Look up their mission statement.
  8. Look professional. What does the web say about you? What type of person are you portraying to the world on social media? Does what you are portraying show someone who is serious about their education and would make an organization proud to sponsor them?
  9. Look for essay contests. Students can be lazy and many will skip scholarship contests that require an essay. Applying for these scholarships could increase your odds of success. Remember that some essays can be used for more than one scholarship or easily tailored to meet requirements on multiple essay contests.
  10. Be passionate. When you’re writing a scholarship essay let your personal voice come through. Include lots of details in your essay that helps reveal who you are. It’s usually a good idea to focus on a problem and how you solved it or overcame adversity.
  11. Use your high school faculty to help with the process. Your guidance counselor can help guide you through tough questions or essays. Teachers may also be able to spend some time with you or shed some wisdom on areas of study they personally have knowledge about.
  12. Meet the deadlines. Stay organized. Here are some things you should plan to have ready for the application process. Scholarship organizations will ask for some or all of these items. They are also important to keep around for college applications too.
    • A copy of your transcripts. Most applications will ask you to name the contact to receive these officially from your school. In this case name, Verne Sherman.
    • Standardized test scores.
    • Parent’s financial information, including tax returns.
    • Financial aid forms, such as the FAFSA or CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®
    • One or more essays.
    • One or more letters of recommendation. Proof of eligibility for the scholarship (for example, proof of membership in a certain group)
  13. Keep copies of everything. Having copies of your scholarship application makes it easy to resend quickly if application materials get lost in the mail. If you’re applying for a scholarship online, save copies of your work on your computer.


Adapted from: CBSnews.com, FinAid.org, bigfuture.collegeboard.org