You’ve narrowed down your list to a few favorite colleges, and you’re ready to do your applications. Before you do, consider how your application might influence the financial side of things.
Depending on what you include, you could significantly affect the type and amount of scholarships you’ll receive. Here are some tips on how to get college scholarships!
Could your college application equal money?
Some colleges review your application not only to determine whether you are a good candidate for admission, but also to see if you qualify for scholarships.
Scholarships that are awarded during the admissions review are usually included in your acceptance letter, regardless of whether you have applied for financial aid or plan to do so.
It’s a great thing to receive a college acceptance. It’s even greater to receive free money at the same time!
Could your high school grades equal money?
Many colleges and universities award scholarships based on academic achievement, called “merit awards.” Those are determined by objective measures of your success in high school, such as GPA, AP courses, SAT or ACT scores, and to some degree, letters of recommendation.
Merit awards are standardized, objective, and not subject to much negotiation. Of course, if your high school performance improves after the award has been offered, you can ask to be reconsidered.
Could offering more info equal money?
You may not be able to change the numbers that reflect your academic profile, but you can increase your chances for other scholarships. There are plenty of non-academic scholarships that are awarded regardless of need. You just have to present the information that admissions officers need to consider you for eligibility.
Let’s look at an example on how to get college scholarships:
Green Mountain College offers several non-academic scholarships based on activities and experiences, such as community service, leadership, environmental advancement and visual and performing arts.
Admissions officers look for evidence of these activities in the application and make recommendations to the dean for awards of up to $7,000 in each category.
• Student A
Student A lists the following on her application under “activities”:
Church youth group
• Student B
Student B had the exact same extracurricular profile, but included additional information in a résumé:
Soccer: Was co-captain of the soccer team junior year.
Scouting: Earned badges for different volunteer activities (which she lists).
Church youth group: Took a two-week missionary trip to Belize where
I helped build a school.
Student government: Was class representative for two years, treasurer for one year and vice president her senior year.
Which student is more likely to receive community service and leadership awards?
Student A had a good résumé but failed to express herself with key words and details that tell the whole story.
Student B put in a little extra time and effort with a résumé that really showcased her activities. Student B will be rewarded with scholarships, while Student A may be overlooked.
Admissions officers aren’t mind readers. Sure, they try to read between the lines, but it helps to read the words that are actually in the file.
Words like captain, president and representative indicate leadership. Specific examples of volunteer work tell us that a student is oriented toward community service.
Choose your words carefully and fill in the details. You’ve probably done a lot. Now is the time to talk about it in your application and interview. That's how you get more money in college scholarships. You’ll be glad you did!
Sandra Bartholomew is dean of enrollment management at Green Mountain College(greenmtn.edu), an environmental liberal arts college located in Poultney, VT.