Researching scholarship opportunities and putting together a competitive application is time intensive. When considering undergraduate opportunities, think at least two quarters in advance. For example, if you want to study abroad in the fall, you must apply for study abroad scholarships in the winter and spring quarters. When considering post-graduate opportunities, such as graduate study fellowships or research grants, start researching a year in advance.
Most scholarship applications require the following components:
Resume or CV
Letters of recommendation
Allow at least a month to compile applications for local scholarships and three months for national or international opportunities.
A useful strategy is to create a timeline:
Start with the deadline and work backwards
Plan out when specific application components should be completed
Leave time for revising
Allow sufficient time for recommenders
Once you find an interesting scholarship opportunity, think of what the selection committee will be looking for. The essay prompt might be focused on you, but your writing should focus on how you meet the donors' needs or program objectives. Based on their history, values, and scholarship goals, what type of applicants will be ideal? Align yourself with that ideal as closely as you can.
Focus on your writing
In a scholarship application, you are represented by your writing. With few exceptions, the selection committee does not have a chance to meet you. Your writing must tell a compelling story, in a concise and grammatically-sound way, to demonstrate that you are the best candidate for the award.
Follow these scholarship essay writing tips. Then, edit, edit, edit!