Find 10 Ultimate Secrets for Winning Merit Scholarships
Too many students believe in myths that surround grants given out based on merit. That’s one of the reasons why a lot of talented kids miss out on the chance to receive the financial aid they need. They also weren’t looking in the right direction or they didn’t know enough about the rules to put together a successful application kit. That’s why it pays to know beforehand what you’ll be up against.
If you’re going to start applying for merit scholarships, make sure you know some of the best strategies for securing merit-based aid. Here are some of the tips you’ll want to keep in mind before you download, fill out and send out application forms.
1. Know What They Are
Be clear about what merit grants are. That’s the first step. You can hardly apply for something if you aren’t entirely sure about the program, the costs that it usually covers, and more. Basically, educational grants given based on merit are awarded because of extracurricular or academic achievements. Why does that matter?
Keep in mind that plenty of scholarships are granted based on financial need. That means that the financial status of the applicants is considered and that anyone who doesn’t fit that income bracket or who happens to earn more than the stated income levels are automatically not eligible to apply for the grant.
Merit-based aid completely ignores that, though, and often targets particular niches or demographics, disciplines, or skills. Some could be for high school students who show promise in leadership, others might show stellar talent in singing, performing, the visual arts, or even sports.
2. Apply to More Than One
A lot of schools will tell you that you’ll want to concentrate on applying to just one scholarship. But you’ll be missing out on all the opportunities when you do that. Instead, apply to as many as you can. Just make sure you don’t compromise the quality of each application.
Work as hard as you can on each one and do the same, put the same effort and energy into the next. That way, you’ll increase your chances with every application. Better yet, assess each application and figure out what you can improve on for the next ones. That will make it more likely for you to get a grant, sooner or later.
In case you hit the jackpot and get accepted to more than one scholarship programs, you can always choose which one you like better.
3. Consider the Requirements
You want to pick scholarships that are much suited to you given your strengths and interests or even your academic or extracurricular track record. That’s a wise strategy and will help you narrow down your options. That matters. Knowing which programmes are a good match for you gives you a much better chance of getting a grant. You can focus on those grants when you start sending out submissions.
4. Prepare Early
You don’t get to win scholarships—merit-based or not—if you aren’t prepared. Don’t wait months before you need a grant before you get ready to prepare for the scholarship. By then, many of the programmes will be closed. Some educational grants also require you to prepare for the scholarship a full year ahead. By knowing these things, you can plan early. Early planning and preparation are essential to a successful application.
5. Don’t Procrastinate
When you have an entire year to prepare for the grant, it might seem like you have a ton of time on your hands. A lot of students think that and so they end up putting off deadlines. But time flies fast. One minute you still have a full year ahead of you and the next, you’re only a month or two from the submission deadline.
If you don’t take the deadlines you set seriously for every section of the application form, then you’ll find yourself rushing through the process, which is the last thing you want. Being in too much of a hurry will lead to a ton of mistakes.
6. Check Your Application
You’re done and excited. You can’t wait to send your application and finally get some much needed rest or break before you apply to another programme. But before you send that kit, make sure you go over the form. Did you miss a section? Are there any mistakes in grammar or spelling? Even minor errors can derail your submission as it might detract from the value of your text. This might seem like something every primary student would know.
But you’d be surprised at how many students even those at secondary or even college levels who still end up making the same mistake. Be sure to check the contact details, too. If your email or mobile numbers are off by a letter or number, that could make it difficult for the scholarship committee to inform you if you get shortlisted.
7. Get Help
Don’t do it alone. Get help from people you know and trust. Have a teacher, friend, or mentor read your personal statement essay. Did it deliver the emotional impact you wanted? What areas or portions did they like best and least? What portions could use some improvement? What portions could be removed because they don’t add value to the text or are weak? Having someone proofread your work and provide feedback can help bring your essay to another level.
8. Prepare Your Answers
Don’t start answering the form as soon as you get your hands on it. Read through all the questions first. Some of the questions might lead to the same answers for you, so it’s best that you plan your answers. Which question can give you more leeway to discuss this anecdote or that anecdote? Consider the values that the school wants to see in its students and find ways to incorporate anecdotes that demonstrate how you have those qualities. You want to create the right impression and preparing your answers in advance will help a lot.
9. Submit Neat Files
When you send the submission, make sure the files and documents are all neat, tidy, and organized. If the pages have stains, are torn in places or dirty, the screening panel might not want to have to labor over your page, trying to figure out what your answers are. Your kit could get tossed out of the pile for that. Don’t take any chances with your application. If you want to make sure yours gets accepted without any trouble, make your form neat and tidy, with zero dirt or stains.
10. Know the Process
Ask as much as you can about the scholarship process. How will the panel notify the shortlisted candidates and when? That way, you’ll know that if the ten or twenty-day period is up and you still haven’t received a response, then it’s likely that your application was rejected. Also, you’ll know if you need to review for an exam and what that exam will cover. Knowing enough about the process also means you’ll be prepared for the final interview.
In the end, do a mock interview with your parents, teacher, or friend. Or you could look up common interview questions. Practice answering them. You don’t have to memorize your answers. Just knowing what your stance is about a particular issue will help you get ready for when the real interview come.