5 Common Clichés That Will Help You Win a Scholarship

How many times have you heard somebody say this to you?

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”


“When you fall off the horse, you have to get back up.”

We’ve all had eye-roll inducing sayings thrown at us before, but when you stop to think about it, there’s a reason these expressions have stood the test of time — it’s because they’re true.

Whether we like to admit it or not, some of the oldest advice in the world is also the most accurate. Nothing is a better example of that than the hunt for financial aid.

So before you throw your hands in the air and call it quits, read these five time-tested tactics to up your scholarship game.

1). “Survival of the fittest.”

Scholarship providers are all looking for something specific from their applicants. Maybe it’s a passion for the arts or maybe it’s a dedication to improving your community. Whatever the case, know what they are looking for (there should be hints in the applicant information) and apply for those where you feel you are a good fit.

If you’re ever unsure what exactly it is you should be striving to put on display, look at past winners of that scholarship for insight. Review the organization’s ethos and the efforts they are actively taking to achieve their goals. Providers view the students they award scholarships to as a reflection of their own organization, so the better you can align with their mission the more likely you are to have your application and essay resonate.

2).“It’s a numbers game.”

There’s an element of luck involved in winning scholarships. Not just in terms of the competition you’ll be up against, but also the number of scholarships you’re able to find.

When searching for scholarships look out for as many awards as you can that you fit the criteria for. The more scholarships you apply for — especially those that play to your strengths — the higher chances you have of being awarded some college funds.

3). “Mind your P’s: positivity, passion, and punctuality.”

There’s a common misconception that scholarships are only awarded to students with heartbreaking personal experiences or against-all-odds life stories. The truth is while those students do account for a portion of scholarship winners, it’s a small amount.

Scholarship providers want to hear what motivates you to rise above, not what has kept you down. Stay positive in your essays and focus on how you have overcome hardships. Write about what you’re passionate about to show you truly are more than a test score (but avoid hard stances on controversial issues unless directly asked). And of course, get all of your application materials in on time (or early, if possible)!

4). “Sweat the small stuff.”

Every scholarship dollar counts! Remember that in college, time equals money — the more time you spend enrolled in a school the more money it’s going to cost. $100 might not seem worth the time, but in reality it could account for a monthly dinner budget. That said, a $100 scholarship can have a direct impact on your weekly ramen intake as well.

5). “It’s who you know.”

Your boss for your part-time job. Your Mom. Your Aunt, neighbor, Guidance Counselor, Financial Aid Officer… Corporations, churches, non-profits, clubs — all sorts of organizations offer scholarships. You’ll never know what’s out there until you ask. The more people you can leverage to aid your scholarship search the larger a net you can cast.

There are other factors in the scholarship process you won’t be able to control, but keeping these five pointers in mind lays a solid groundwork for you to work from. Winning a scholarship isn’t an exact science, so don’t beat yourself up over mistakes you make along the way. Each scholarship you discover is a new opportunity, so approach it with a strategy and attitude you’ll feel confident about.

written by
Stephanie Seibert
June 26, 2013

3 Responses to “5 Common Clichés That Will Help You Win a Scholarship”

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    January 29, 2014 at 9:24 am #

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