Four Excuses That Stop You From Applying To Scholarships

As a scholarship coach, I spend most of my time convincing clients to stop talking themselves out of applying to scholarship opportunities. Attempting to address this awkward situation, I’ve decided to post the top four excuses students (and parents) give me when they’re looking for free funding.

Can you separate fact from fiction? Let’s clarify some common misconceptions people have about college scholarships.

Excuse #1: Most college scholarships go to high school seniors

One of the biggest misconceptions students have about college scholarships is that awards are only available to graduating high school seniors. There are plenty of scholarship opportunities available to both high school students and currently enrolled undergrads of any age—including transfer students. In fact, merit-based awards and scholarship essay contests are offered on a year-round basis. Some of these programs have surprisingly big payoffs, despite attracting few applicants.

Excuse #2: I need perfect grades to win scholarships

This statement couldn’t be further from the truth. While a student with high marks might have access to more merit-based opportunities, there are countless scholarship programs out there that don’t use grades to evaluate applicants. Once you know where to look, you can find awards for being affiliated with an organization, having an interest in a specific hobby, or deciding to pursue a particular major. Furthermore, scholarship programs that require high G.P.A.s tend to be competitive. With this logic, a student with modest grades and a hard work ethic could fare better in the scholarship game than a lazy student with a spectacular transcript.

Excuse #3: The scholarship search engine gave me the wrong information.

There are several free scholarship search engines out there, but their learning curves are steep. Anyone looking for a last-minute miracle will become especially frustrated, as misinformation abounds on these sites. Discrepancies in submission guidelines make it easy for you to waste your time applying to scholarships you’re ineligible to enter.

Even worse, you can spend hours writing a scholarship essay or preparing application materials for a contest that has already closed. But the most troubling reality about search engines is that they can inadvertently (or intentionally) harbor scholarship scams and marketing ploys, difficult for the inexperienced researcher to spot. Working one-on-one with a professional scholarship coach can help.

Excuse #4: You have to be an amazing writer to win a scholarship essay contest

While strong writers might gravitate toward essay contests, technical proficiency doesn’t guarantee victory. Sometimes all it takes to get inside the winner’s circle is an appreciation of basic grammar and a compelling story. Conciseness and creativity go a long way with judges who are tired of reading the same old clichés. Crowd favorites are crowd favorites for a reason: they connect with readers and make them feel something. Focus on the feeling first, and the rest will fall into place.

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Joseph NovinsonTyler R. Vunk is a financial aid consultant at Vested Academics. He regularly counsels students, parents, and families on all aspects of the financial aid process.

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