When I give presentations on scholarships, many parents and students attend to receive valuable information. For the most part, everyone is there to learn about one thing: money! But, is the allure of cold hard cash all that scholarships are good for? While financial awards are really nice, having a track record of scholarship attainment is an asset that can help you distinguish yourself in competitive employment or academic opportunities. In other words, cash is good, but a track record of scholarship attainment is even better.
The unfortunate thing is that many students never muster the courage to apply to scholarship competitions. On most occasions, students don’t feel that their grades are good enough. Others say that they don’t have enough volunteer experience. At the same time, many annual scholarships receive few or even no applicants! Yes, there is some money that wants to be deposited into a student’s bank account, but no student comes forward to claim it. What a waste! What a tragedy!
If you’re reading this, please know that there are tons of scholarships out there that you could qualify for and win. So, if you’re unsure whether you should apply for scholarships, you should. Here are a few reasons why:
Academic vs. Non-Academic Scholarships
There are plenty of scholarships out there that are given away for an endless amount of reasons. Not all competitions are based on grades so if your GPA isn’t great, you should still be looking for scholarships that fit your personal or academic profile. Don’t get me wrong, good grades always help, but there are many scholarships that are given away for non-academic reasons. For example, there are scholarships for students who play an instrument, play a sport, have a grandparent from a certain part of the world, come from a low-income household, work part-time, have a unique hobby, do volunteer work, have a parent who is part of a union, write poetry, and so on and so on.
What this means is that if your grades aren’t great, you shouldn’t be dissuaded from finding and applying to scholarships. Think about what makes you unique and start there. If you do this, it will make you a highly relevant applicant and probably disqualify many other students who do not have the same interests, history, and profile.
Money Follows Money
Applying to a scholarship can be intimidating. Winning one can seem impossible. The funny thing about these types of competitions is that as you become successful, more money starts to follow. While there’s no data to prove this, let’s consider why it may be logical.
As you accumulate small scholarship wins, the list of accomplishments on your résumé make you a more credible candidate for large awards. When a scholarship committee sees that you are committed to finding awards, applying to them, and winning them, they’ll be more likely to want to invest in you. This is why, as a general principle, money follows money.
Opportunities Follow Money
The logic in money following money is also true for general opportunities. In BridgesEDU coaching sessions, I mentor students on how to put oneself in a position to be the ideal candidate for awards and scholarship contests. If you’re doing all of the right things, opportunities that you would otherwise not expect are likely to follow.
For example, one of the things that you should be doing is attending office hours and building a rapport with your professors. For students who do this, rare opportunities like research assistantships or volunteer opportunities may be presented. When a professor is looking for undergraduate talent to help with a project, there is no question that they are likely to ask students who display eagerness and initiative. By showing up to office hours, this opportunity could be given to you!
In other words, as you do the things that will make you successful in scholarship competitions, other opportunities will follow.
What No One Tells You – Rejections Outnumber Successes, but No One Cares
One of the things that deters students from applying to scholarships is the possibility of rejection. This is really unfortunate because the people that I know who have received very lucrative prizes have been rejected many more times than they’ve succeeded.
The thing that you need to know is that NO ONE will ever ask you how many scholarships you have not received. You will however, be judged by those that you have won.
Rejection should never stop you from applying to more scholarships. If you’re not the chosen applicant for any particular prize, ask yourself how you can learn from the situation, improve your chances next time, and put yourself on track to be a better candidate in the future. In other words, learn from failure and never let it define you.
Start with the BridgesEDU Scholarship Coaching
If you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of finding and applying to scholarships, please know that BridgesEDU can help you. Our scholarship coaching sessions will walk you through the proven methods to find and win scholarship prizes that are specifically catered to your profile. Best of all, our coaching will give you the confidence and expertise to take on this important academic task all by yourself. If you’d like to know more about how we can help, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.