Tips in completing the private scholarship applications: You can do it on your own or we can help. One of the services THE COLLEGE PLAN
TIP #1: Pay Attention To Deadlines
Have your application arrive several days prior to the due date. Always send applications with a "merchandise receipt" to make sure they get there. Note: there is a difference between "merchandise" and "certified" receipts. With a merchandise receipt, anyone can sign for the application. Only the addressee can sign for the application on a certified receipt. Thus, if the addressee does not pick up the mail, the application may not make the deadline.
TIP #2: Start the Application With A "Thank You" Cover Letter.
TIP #3: Answer Their "Request"
While this seems obvious, one must construct the application to make it EASY for the committee to see that the student has provided everything that was required. Provide the items in the order that they are listed in the application. If possible, do not mix items on the same page.
TIP #4: Add Extra Items To Your Application (If Not Prohibited)
This is where a student gets to be creative to find ways and things that present the student in a positive light to the selection committee. Here are a few ideas to get started:
● Write a short essay on “MY EDUCATION/CAREER GOALS.” Try to keep to one page but no more than two. Write a paragraph or two on how this scholarship award would help the student reach the Education/Career Goals.
● Include any letters from the guidance counselor congratulating the student on being in the top 10% of the class, because it will put the student in a "positive light" and show that hard work is recognized.
● One of the best extra items is a letter of acceptance for admission to "any" college. A letter of acceptance shows that the student is serious, but it does not "lock" the student into using the award at that college.
If the scholarship application is not for a specific college, the student can use the award at any college. The student does not have to use it at the college used in the application. The student can notify the scholarship award committee of where to send the award.
Find things that make the student look good and share them with the committee. Limit extras to three or four at the most. Too many extras may "sour" an application. Again, make sure the student is not forbidden to add extra items before doing so.
TIP #5: Personalized Letters Of Recommendation
A letter of recommendation conveys that the student took the time to make the application special. When the student has a letter of recommendation addressed to the specific organization or person that is administering the application process, it says that the student took the time and effort to make this letter "special" for them.
Offer to do much of the work for the writer of the letter of recommendation. If the student wants to apply to twenty scholarship programs, ask if the student can put the application on the computer so the TO ADDRESSEE can be personalized for each application and the writer only has to sign their name twenty times. If the writer has personalized letterhead, ask for blank copies to be used in this process.
Use this letter of recommendation as an “EXTRA ITEM" if the application does not specifically require a letter of recommendation.
Try to obtain three to five letters of recommendation. This will let the student pick and choose which one or ones to send in for a specific application. Never send more than three for an application unless the directions ask for more.
TIP #6: Proof-Read All Materials and Neatness is a Must
Use correct grammar and spelling. If the student has a problem in this area, ask an English teacher to help with proof-reading the essay, cover letter, extra items included, and even letters of recommendation prepared by others. When there are many/hundreds of applications to review, correctness and neatness become the first screen out factor. Only when the "pile" is smaller does the content of the application start to become a factor in the selection process.
TIP # 7: Submit Your Application In A Clear Plastic Folder
Now that the application is complete, the final presentation tip is to place all of the items in a clear plastic folder with a slide locking binder. Use the inexpensive clear binders and include the "Thank You Cover Letter" on top. Include a wallet size picture of the student in the lower left side of the packet. The next item/s in the application packet are those required in the application. Next, add any extra items (if not forbidden) and finally, include any letters of recommendation.
Finally, the application packet should represent a great looking presentation. Do not ruin the appearance by folding it to fit a small envelope. Use an 9X12 type envelope so the application arrives looking great. Remember to send it merchandise receipt.
TIP # 8: Find Something That Interests The Student And Do Some Volunteer Work
There are many local, community service awards available to students, some of which do not involve a great deal of work. There have been fairly large community service scholarships awarded to people with just 20 hours of service! The key is to find an area the student likes and get involved.
Finding community service isn't difficult. Walk into any senior care home. Tell them the student wants to volunteer 2 hours per week. The student will get to talk to some very appreciative and lonely people. In just 10 weeks, the student will have donated 20 hours and the volunteer coordinator at that home would probably write a great reference.