College can be expensive. Plain and simple. As someone who just paid her tuition bill… your girl is struggling. Even with scholarships, there is so much to pay for outside of simply tuition. This includes housing, nights out, hefty club dues. There is a lot going on that can make paying for college or life difficult. Even if you have the entirety of your tuition costs covered, scholarships can help when it comes time to receive that refund from your institution. When it hits, you’ll be grateful for applying for those scholarships. The only thing is… applying can be difficult. Well… getting the scholarship can be a difficult task. Everyone is competing for the same pool of scholarships, so there’s a lot of competition. How do you make your application stand out?

Essay Writing Secrets

Writing a winning essay can be a difficult task, especially if writing isn’t your specialty. My biggest piece of advice is to find yourself an incredible hook. You need to bait your reader into falling so in love with the first sentence of your essay that there’s no way they want to put it down. That first step alone will do you wonders against essays that begin bland and continue off in that manner. 

Recycling essays can help combat the fatigue and that overwhelming feeling that comes from constantly having to write essays for scholarships. I recommend creating a folder in your files labelled scholarship essays and either download all of your scholarship essays in there individually, or create a singular document to collect all of your essays in. This will help you with not having to rewrite a completely new essay for prompts that tend to vary only slightly from others. You can always edit it to become more specific to each scholarship, but it helps to have something to start off with. This shaves off the time it takes for each application by a lot; especially if you have compiled a large list of essays to add to your database. 

Local Scholarships:

I know everyone tells you this, but really dig into those local organizations who are willing to give students in the community money. Check back in your hometown to find out if there are any scholarships available to students who attended your high school, church, worked your old job, etc. Most places have at least a small selection of scholarships to choose from. Take advantage of the fact that most other undergraduates will neglect these scholarships, so the pool of applicants becomes thinner than those huge scholarships everyone has heard of. 

Video Entries:

Many scholarships will be based off primarily a video entry or will have a section about a video entry as part of the application process. There will be so many people who neglect these scholarships because the video portion makes them nervous. If you feel writing isn’t your forte, but you have a way with words, this may be the perfect option for you. Less people apply to this category of scholarships, and you are competing with a pool of people who are somewhat different than those who only apply to essay-based scholarships. Scholarships with video entries also allow for a better connection with judges because they can put a face to the name and understand who you are better. Your personality seeps through much more in a video than on a pdf document on their computers. 


College Scholarship Portals:

Often, your individual college campus will have scholarships that are either specific to students in their institution or within specific majors. Find your institution’s scholarship portal or hub and scroll through to find ones that you feel you are best fit for. Many times, it will tell you if you are eligible for the scholarship before you even click on it, so it saves you the hassle of checking all of the requirements for applicants. Another great thing about these portals is many college students don’t know they exist for some reason. Use that to your advantage for as long as you can, while also spreading the word because we all need free money. 

While applying for scholarships can be an intimidating aspect of the college experience, it can be an essential, especially for those from low-income backgrounds, students paying for college themselves, those who are out of state, or anyone who wants to score some free money for college. We are all in this together and it’s important we try to find ways to save our money as much as can. Weightlifting as a hobby isn’t cheap and those cute outfits that your favorite brand continues to drop won’t pay for themselves. If you are feeling hesitant about submitting a specific essay, please reach out to me and I will be more than willing to help out!

Aatina Shaikh

Aatina is a sophomore pre-law student based in Dallas, Texas. She loves reading, going to the gym, and constantly expanding her intellect! Writing has been a passion of hers throughout her life and she hopes to continue with it on the side throughout her career. She is obsessed with fast food (Cane's and In N' Out specifically) and loves expressing her creativity in any way she can. 

Instagram: @aatina_k_shaikh

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