Winning Scholarships

Focus your interests/write your essay

Decide if you really want to apply for scholarships; 99.9% is in the effort of applying. Donors, committee members, and reviewers just want to know if the applicant is truly interested in winning scholarship funds. Of course, this will shine through in your essay. So, focus before you write. For example, choose a technique and write your first draft; write a short statement summarizing, what makes you unique? Read your essay aloud to a friend, ask if your essay sounds enthusiastic or does it sound forced?  What stands out because it sounds good to you, underline and keep it. Eliminate phrases that sound noncommittal; examine your use of the active and passive voice; consider your conclusion. Does it add substance to your essay or merely restate what has already been written? If your ending is weak, boring and unbelievable, revise it. 

Give your scholarship application a professional polish 

If your application is laden with misspellings and incomplete thoughts, it will create doubts about your ability to present yourself in a professional manner as a college student. Include all requested information. One scholarship foundation had to return one-third of the applications received because applications were incomplete: transcripts were omitted, references were lacking, and so on.

Essay writing

Don't be modest. Show a pattern of initiative; Prove your excellence,  community service and leadership, by mentioning all credentials, extra curricular activities and responsibilities. Committee members, and reviewers consider past behavior the best indicator of future action. Finally, ask yourself how much information are you willing to disclose? 

Financial need

Focus on the special aspects of your financial situation. Some SMC Scholarships are need based. However, don't just say, "I need money," everybody does. Reviewers are influenced more by someone who has to drive 150 miles to the closest school, has major medical bills, or has to support an ailing parent. They also take into consideration, the students who support themselves, and their families on a limited income. Whatever the family situation, don't be afraid to state the need.

Got a goal?

This can make or break your application. Don't write about the overall picture of health care, the importance of a degree, or how education makes you well rounded and confident.  Rather, say what you'll do with the degree; for example, explain your career goals, i.e., a businessperson, educator in the inner city, or a nurse because you believe that nurses provide cost-effective quality health care in a needy setting. Set that goal, and go for it!

Letters of reference/recommendation

Ask for them early in the process! An ideal reference letter should testify to unique traits, and accomplishments that aren't easily apparent in your application.  For example, scholarship reviewers would like to know that you showed the initiative to be a leader, or that you received good grades in a particular subject related to your major. But beware of coaching your reference sources.  Similar phrasing strikes reviewers as rehearsed clichés rather than sincere praise. Recommendation letters cannot be emailed to the Scholarship Office, they must be attached to your SMC Scholarship application; please submitt current letters; all letters of recommendation must be on letterhead of the agency, school, business, or community organization you have solicited.

And the winner is!

Submitting a winning scholarship application takes time and effort, but there's no mystique to it.  Craft a  complete, professional application and you'll soon be opening a letter that begins, "Dear Student, "Congratulations!"

Who Qualifies For Scholarships?

Financing an education is very difficult, and expensive. It is for this reason that as a student it is your responsibility to search out every opportunity that exists to aide you through school.  Contrary to many beliefs, financial aid and scholarships are services that are developed to help a large range of the student population.  There are many scholarships for students with different GPA's, financial needs, and grade levels.  Never assume that you will not qualify for any scholarship. In order for you not to cheat yourself out of any money, it is extremely important that you take time to research the opportunities that are available to you. While on your quest for researching scholarships, remember you won't win if you don't apply.

*Applying for scholarships is a year round activity. Always keep an eye open for scholarship opportunities.​​​​