Becoming the Dollar Scholar: Tips for Submitting the Best Scholarship Application

“Tis the season of giving, and what better to give than scholarships to cancer survivors. You heard right, the application for the 2016-2017 Cancer for College scholarship is live (click here to get started) until January 31! We cannot think of a worthier group than young cancer survivors, or a better cause than their education. Our applicants live very busy lives: going from sports and music, to final projects, treatment, family engagements, and just plain being awesome (it can be quite tiring). That being said, in order to give every applicant the best possible chance of receiving a scholarship next year, we have compiled a list of helpful tips and hints on your way to conquering this application (and every other application you may be completing). Here we go!

Tip #1: Recommendation Letters

Even though this is a simple step, it is important to start the process as soon as possible so that whomever you ask has ample time to gush about all of your accomplishments and good qualities. When pondering who you would like to ask, keep these things in mind:

  1. Choose someone based on familiarity instead of status. While it is tempting to ask a superstar teacher or acquaintance based on who they are to others, only ask them based on who they are to you. If they know you well enough to speak to your accomplishments, then you have found a stellar recommendation.
  2. Make your invitation personal. If this recommendation is important to you, let whomever you ask know that in more than a text; “CN U HLP, PLZ?” is just not classy. A better option is to ask him or her in person or over the phone before you send the request. and show your appreciation with a thank you note or other simple gift.
  3. Show your appreciation. Once you have received confirmation that the recommendation letter has been submitted, let the writer know you are grateful for the time and effort they put in with a thank you note. And if you receive the scholarship, perhaps another thank you is well-deserved, in the form of coffee or a little gift card.

Tip #2: Personal Statement

One of the most daunting parts of any application is the personal statement. How do you know what to write, or even how to present yourself? The important thing to remember is that we want to know you, not the person you think fits into some fantasy “scholarship recipient mold.” Personal statements give you the chance to expound upon what we did not ask for elsewhere. Paint a complete picture of yourself here, starting with these thoughts to get your mind whirring:

  1. What makes you unique?
  2. Are you already an expert at something that most people have never even attempted?
  3. Positivity versus reality. Do not discount inputting challenges or tragedy if those situations have been the most impactful parts of your life. Positivity does not a scholarship get, nor a person make.
  4. Being yourself is the most memorable.
  5. Finally, get someone to proofread the statement for errors, and to make sure you hit the high notes of you.

Tip #3: Pace Yourself

You thought you were only getting tips for an application, but this one applies to life, too. When you get stuck, take a break and go do something to purposefully take your mind off of the scholarship. This will benefit you, and the people around you would so much rather spend time with a human than a cranky stress monster. The application window is open until the end of January, so take it in sections. Oftentimes, our brains keep working through problems subconsciously, editing and improving until what you have is what you knew you always wanted to say and your mind sighs, “ahhhh.” So, take off the thinking cap, save your work often (seriously), and go do something that you enjoy for a while.

***** ***** *****

However you choose to go about completing the application for the 2016-2017 Cancer for College scholarship, be certain that it has your own stamp of approval. We look forward to getting to know you through your application and, hopefully, beyond that as well. Good luck! We are rooting for you.

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