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Four Tips for a Successful Scholarship Search

Attending college is an exciting rite of passage for many high school students and young adults, and financing the cost is part of that process. From tuition to housing to books, the amount of money you’ll need to pay can add up quickly. There are many resources available for students to bridge the financial gap when seeking higher education, and scholarships are one of them. A scholarship, which is a grant or payment made to support a student’s education, typically requires the student to submit an application in order to apply. Some scholarships instruct students to write an essay based on a specific prompt, while others are based on achievement and merit alone. No matter what sort of scholarship you are applying for, it’s important to be prepared. DCCU is here to help you succeed in your scholarship search with these four tips.

Get Organized
Before you start your scholarship search, it’s important to prepare a system to help keep your information organized. Start by listing all the scholarships you’ve found and will likely be eligible for. Don’t forget to include the name of the sponsoring organization. We recommend utilizing a spreadsheet to keep all information together and in one centralized location. You’ll want to include things like website addresses, contact information, eligibility requirements, and application deadlines. Next, set reminders in your smartphone for two to three weeks before each deadline so that you have ample time to complete the applications and gather any needed information.

Start Early
There are plenty of scholarships available, and in order to find the ones best for you will take time. Starting early will help you maximize your search while enabling you to take advantage of a greater number of opportunities. We recommend using a matching tool such as Scholarships.comfastweb, or bigfuture by the College Board in order to find scholarship opportunities. These sites match you with scholarships based on what you will likely qualify for. It’s also important to remember that your own community may offer scholarship opportunities as well. Talk to your friends, family members, mentors, and even teachers to find out more about what opportunities exist within your community.

Write Effective Essays
While some scholarships only require an application, others instruct students to submit an essay as well. It’s incredibly important to make sure your essay stands out as captivating and intriguing while also remaining thoughtful and compelling. You’ll want to make sure you understand the assignment prior to writing. Then organize your thoughts, and create an outline around what you’d like to convey in your essay. Make sure that your outline covers all points or questions laid out in the scholarship essay requirements, and begin writing your essay. Make sure the essay covers all the points in the outline, and be mindful of using clear, concise language. Try not to wander from the topics being discussed. After you’ve written your essay, make sure your grammar and spelling are correct and then have someone with strong writing and editing skills proofread the essay before you submit it. Essays with originality tend to perform best, and we encourage you to tap into your creativity during the essay portion of scholarships. Getting innovative may help you stand out from the crowd.

Prepare for Interviews
Some scholarship programs may require you to go through an interview process, whether virtual or in person. Below are some examples of common scholarship interview questions, and you can find a more comprehensive list here. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with these questions and practice answering them as if you were actually in an interview. You may even want to have someone perform a mock interview to help you better prepare.

  1. Why did you apply for this scholarship?
  2. What makes you stand out from the other candidates?
  3. What contributions would you like to make to your community?
  4. Talk about your academic achievements.
  5. Tell us about yourself.

Preparing for the cost of college can be daunting, scholarships can help ease the financial burden. With the tips we’ve provided, you’ll be ready to start your scholarship season with ease. DCCU is committed to helping students achieve their higher educational goals. Our 2022 Scholarship Contest is officially underway, and we invite students to submit an essay before March 7, 2022. To read more about our current scholarship opportunity, including details for entering, please click here.