Do I Have to be Smart to Get a Scholarship?
There is a difference between being smart and being ambitious. A lot of people in high school think that being smart means being academic. That is not the case. Everyone has their talent, from science, to art, to trades, to sports to nature-related skills. There are scholarships out there for every kind of individual. The main thing to keep in mind is that scholarships are about more than grades. Those who give these scholarships to prospective post-secondary students want the whole package—they want students that are more than just good grades. Therefore, being ‘smart’ isn’t a core part of the deal.
Writing a good letter
Scholarship applications require a letter of intent—a chance to explain yourself, your goals and what is at the core of your drive. The key is to appear to be relentless in the search for success. Having good references is important, but they do not have to be teachers, although one teacher is always good, so work on building relationship with a teacher at school that you look up to. Other references could be professionals you have worked for or people you have volunteered for—anyone who can attest to your character. Therefore, being “smart” isn’t what is important. Being driven is, and people must believe that you can achieve something great with that ambition.
Depth of character
Depth of character refers to volunteering and jobs—showing that you’re willing to give your time to meaningful events and causes. Those who offer scholarships want that money to go to special students. You need to first believe that you are special, and show why you are special in your profile and application. Learn how to sell yourself and, most importantly, sell the positive impact that you will have on the future.
All about timing
A lot of students wait until their senior year to start looking into scholarships, but actually it’s wiser to start looking in sophomore year. Many scholarships consider GPAs, and that is traditionally what students think scholarships are all about. But actually, many scholarships consider GPAs as low as 2.5. It is good to try to keep your grades up, but there are scholarships for those who excel in other areas, like being involved and working hard. Still, by considering scholarships earlier than senior year, you give yourself time to assess the situation and work on your GPA if it’s too low and gain work experience that could qualify you for the scholarships you find early on.
A lot of scholarships must be applied for online though scholarship websites—it is very important to be thorough when filling out your profile on the site. Include accolades, volunteer work, any heritage information that could match you to specific scholarships, and sports and music electives. Be as prepared as possible when filling out your profile on a scholarship site to ensure you receive the most appropriate matches. A lot about finding scholarships is about being systematic—make sure you consider smaller scholarships as well as large ones. The smaller ones do not have as many applicants and have little to do with “smarts” and more to do with references. Make sure that you have many different versions of cover letters and résumés ready to do that adapt to different scholarships. Be proactive and set aside time to work on scholarship applications. Make it a top priority—this is not about being smart, it’s about being goal-orientated. And you will find that that is smartness in itself.