Considering the tremendous impact that having a college degree has on lifetime earnings, and the importance of scholarships for needy students, the scholarship application process is about the most important thing a teenager can undertake. Getting scholarships can be the difference between your investments in College having a positive or negative ROI. That is if they are planning on going to college (make sure to read Derek’s great post on is it really worth it?). Since around 90 percent of all applications are thrown out in the first round of reviews because of common errors, it is important to avoid making these mistakes on scholarship forms.
Extracurricular Activities vs Academic Excellence
If you are a student whose scholarship application makes it through the first round, you are in for the real test. The second stage of the scholarship application process is where the judges increase their focus on the details, and where extracurricular activities assume almost as much importance academic excellence. There is no room for error in this very competitive process.
Best Places to Search For Scholarships and Grants
The best places to search for scholarships are government run institutions like
Make Sure You Are Applying for the Correct Scholarship
It is important to avoid the first basic error, which is applying for the wrong scholarships. Every scholarship fund has its own goals and purposes, and your achievements are not considered in a vacuum, but in relation to the funds objectives and the course of study you plan to pursue. So, dont make the mistake of wasting your time (and the judges) by applying for the wrong scholarship.
Assuming that you have determined the right places to apply for scholarships, you still need to avoid these common mistakes on your scholarship forms:
10 Most Common Scholarship Application Mistakes
1. Not meeting the minimum requirements, of whatever kind. If you apply for a scholarship requiring a foreign language you did not study or a minimum GPA you did not achieve, you should not waste your energy or the judges time. This is similar to the fundamental error, mentioned above, of applying for the wrong scholarship entirely.
2. Submitting the wrong items, or inappropriate ones. Baby pictures are not considered “your photo” in this stage of your life.
3. Making avoidable mistakes of spelling, grammar or facts. Even a single misspelling can damage your application, so use both a spell-checker and have a good writer or editor review your application.
4. Mailing the application package with insufficient postage. It may arrive to the judges with postage due, or be returned so it misses the deadline.
5. Leaving off all or part of your contact information (address, phone numbers, zip code). The head of a well known free scholarship search and information Web site polled over 40 scholarship judges, and was surprised at the number of reports of contact information being left off forms.
6. Submitting a wrinkled or stained application or supporting documents. Surprisingly (or perhaps not to teenagers mothers), scholarship applications often show the evidence of having been filled out while the applicant was eating or drinking soda.
7. Sending an envelope without the application in it. The scholarship service mentioned above reports that this is also quite common.
8. Submitting an illegible application. It is bad enough that some applicants fill out the applications and write their essays with poor penmanship, but those using word processors should know better than to use a script typeface in all capital letters, or a weird mix of different typefaces.
9. Making inappropriate or personal comments in essays or letters. Not only is it poor manners to tell judges how to do their jobs or criticize their work, it will almost certainly guarantee that they will tell other scholarship judges about you, and not in a good way.
10. Turning in an incomplete application package. If you are asked to include photos or other documents, make sure to do so.
It is said that these common mistakes are made by more than 75 percent of all scholarship applicants. In a process as important and life-changing as applying for a scholarship, it is important to do things correctly and show the right amount of care, concern and respect for the application package – not to mention yourself and the judges, too. You can assure yourself a fighting chance if you simply avoid making these mistakes on your scholarship forms, so slow down and be extra careful! If you are looking for other ways to get through college with no debt be sure to read Dereks eBook here.
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.