Top 5 tips for applying for a scholarship

Top 5 tips for applying for a scholarship

There is one month left before the McPherson County Community Foundation scholarship applications are due. For those of you applying, I offer some things I’ve learned from being on the receiving end – and working with vetting your applications. My gift of the top 5 bits of wisdom:

  1. Read and follow the directions

The guidelines for each grant are determined by a variety of factors, including – but not limited to – donor intent, ease of the process for the applicant, consistency across applications for scholarship committee consideration. All of these factors weigh in on the questions posed and the instructions given.

When you, as an applicant, complete the application as instructed, it helps your application move through the process easier.


  1. If you have questions – ask

If the instructions are not clear, and there is a contact name and information listed, use it! It is much easier in the process to answer questions before you submit than to try and fix an issue after. Most program officers are glad to help facilitate and guide applicants.


  1. If you write an essay edit your own work – then ask someone else to edit for you

An essay serves as a reflection of who you are as a person. When you present yourself with clarity, correct grammar & spelling, and with honesty, it tells the committee member that this process is important to you.

Many scholarship committee members remark on how interesting something is or how meaningful it was to them as a decision-maker to know certain elements of an applicant’s life. This part of the process allows you to open the door to your hopes and dreams and what it has taken to get you to where you are today!


  1. If you list someone as a reference – Ask them first

Always, always, always ask someone before you list them as a reference! (HINT: This tip is vital for job applications, too.) There are several reasons this is important. First, it’s just polite to allow the person the opportunity of choice to serve the process in this way. They may not feel they can complete the requirements in the right amount of time. Or they may have reservations regarding what they would say.

Second, If the person you have asked to serve as a reference is not aware, they may glance over communications to complete the requirements. This could mean they won’t submit something in the proper time-frame.

Third, if someone says “yes” it gives them time to think about what they might say.


  1. Check your email for communications

THIS IS SO CRUCIAL! Program officers do their best to make sure all the pieces of your application are complete. It can be a challenge to do anything beyond email. Because your high school email address expires after graduation, please use a more common email address.

And then, make sure to check and respond to communications in a timely manner.

In case a phone call IS necessary, please make sure you have supplied a number that is current. If it changes, please make sure you enter that in your profile.


Unfortunately, there are many applicants to consider in each of the scholarship processes. So, failing to do some of the above, could rank your submission lower and cost you the grant. You want your hard work to be recognized, so do your best!