Secrets to Scholarship Success: Boost Your Chances

More than $2 billion in private scholarships is given to smart, hardworking students such as yourself. But sometimes hard to stand out in a pool of thousands of other students. Unfortunately  only 1 out of 13 students wins an outside scholarship. On top of competition, there are also fraudsters out there looking to get some money from you by charging application or processing fees. That’s so wrong! We want you to have the best possible chance, so we’ve gathered some tips from scholarship judges, fraud investigators, and previous winners to help boost your chances of winning that moolah.


Don’t enter any contest or scholarship that requires you to pay money.

At Cappex, we don’t list scholarships that require you to pay to apply or a credit card number to “hold” it, because we think it’s wrong! Legitimate scholarships never do this, according to Scholarship America, and we agree. Many applications require proof of financial need, but there’s no need for them to have bank account or credit card information.

Don’t copy previous winners.

In a pool of hundreds or even thousands of applicants, your goal is to stand out from the crowd, not blend in. Use that creativity and don’t copy others. Too many entrants in the $3,000 Duck-brand contest to make prom outfits from duct tape simply tweak the designs of previous winners, says Bethany Schmotzer, a Duck Products executive. Winners will be those who think outside of the box!

Follow instructions and do a spell check.

Applications with horrible spelling and grammar mistakes are going to end up in the trash, as are those that don’t follow instructions. Judges in the OP Loftbed essay contest say they discard about 60% of entries for not following contest rules and ditch 50% of those for bad spelling and grammar. Spend a few minutes making sure your application is clean and clear…or ask your mom proofread it for you.

Zig where the competition will zag.

On standard essay questions, there are going to be standard or “canned answers.” Lesley Wainwright, who won one of the prestigious Coca-Cola Scholars Foundations scholarships in 1994 and has judged for the $20,000 top prize, had to answer the question, “If you could go back in history, what one thing would you change?” She guessed that everyone else would write about saving Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. or John  F. Kennedy or abolishing slavery. So instead, she wrote about something she just studied: she’d prevent the burning of the library in ancient Alexandria. By not choosing something conventional, she stood out from the masses.

Moral of the story: be creative, be yourself. Make sure you submit something that you are proud of and your chances will increase tenfold!

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