How to Stand Out: Technical Stuff
One of the best ways to make a positive impression with your scholarship application is to be sure that it is executed properly: organized, free of errors, and complete. Scholarship committees often have very specific guidelines to follow when filling out, assembling, and submitting your application. If you don’t adhere to these guidelines, it implies that you cannot follow directions and you may even be disqualified as a result. Here are some technical tips on how to make sure your application gives a good impression of you.
Think about a time when you noticed an error in something you were reading. What did that tell you about the person who wrote it? In a scholarship application, your words are representing you. Errors have the potential to demonstrate carelessness and an inability to effectively communicate. That’s why it’s so important to make sure everything you write is correct and written to the best of your ability. Distinguish yourself from the competition by making sure your words are expressed in a clear and comprehensive manner. It also helps to have a second pair of eyes look over your application to catch spelling, grammatical, formatting, or style errors you may have missed.
Make it legible.
Always try your best to complete your application by typing it out on the computer. Then print it out or email the file for submission. Not only will this make your application look professional, but it will also be completely legible. Some scholarship providers require you to write your statement directly onto the paper application. If you absolutely must fill out your application by hand, begin by writing out the longer answers on a separate sheet of paper. Proofread your work and then transfer your final draft onto the application in clean, legible handwriting. If your handwriting isn’t the best, ask someone with nice handwriting to write it for you.
Follow the directions.
Read through the scholarship materials and directions completely. Then make sure you follow all the directions. Some scholarship committees have very specific instructions, such as stapling the packet together in a particular order or submitting more than one copy of your materials. Directions like these might not seem like a big deal to you, but if the scholarship committee sees that you can’t follow simple directions, they aren’t very likely to consider you a good candidate for their scholarship. Also be sure you have included everything that was requested. Sometimes scholarship applications include a checklist of the required information – use it!
Submit your scholarship application before the deadline. Some scholarship committees require your application to be postmarked by the deadline, and some require your application to be in their hands by the deadline. Occasionally committees even go so far as to establish a time of day before which they must receive your application. Many even encourage early submissions. Whatever the case, don’t wait until the last minute – make sure your application will arrive on time. Imagine how upset you would be after having put all that effort into an application only to have it disqualified because it arrived late?
The saying, “You never have a second chance to make a first impression” is especially true of scholarship applications. To guarantee your scholarship application best represents you, just be sure to follow all the given directions, make it look polished, and submit it on time.
Sources: Purdue Online Writing Lab: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/642/01/