Scholarships: Avoid Application Procrastination
It’s never a good idea to leave things until the very last minute, but this is particularly true of scholarship applications. Many students feel like they have all the time in the world to “get to it later,” but procrastinating in this way will often harm your chances of successfully winning scholarships you apply for.
Obviously, the biggest concern is that you procrastinate for so long that you don’t have time to submit any applications before their deadlines, therefore not even having the chance to successfully receive scholarships. But even if you still complete last-minute applications, you can still have problems from waiting too long.
First off, competition for many scholarships–particularly high value ones–can be extremely high. Though high-paying scholarships often have the most stringent qualifications, they still typically see the greatest number of applicants. If you wait until the last day to submit your application, not only are you essentially at the bottom of the pile, but it’s possible that the reviewers have already seen enough applications to make their short list, and will only give yours a cursory glance. Reviewers receiving your application on the last day are also likely to believe you are not invested in the scholarship, or that you weren’t interested in giving your application the right amount of effort.
Though it’s a factor out of your control, you should also consider that scholarship application reviewers are just people, and don’t have an unlimited supply of patience or attention. This means that sometimes your application is more likely to receive the full attention and consideration from reviewers when they receive it early on in the application period. If you wait until just before the deadline, the reviewers are likely to have seen many applications, and could be tired of reading them or, as mentioned above, already have a short list.
Everyone is familiar with leaving something until the last moment, whether it’s an assignment for school, household chores, or packing for a trip. What everyone is likely also familiar with in these circumstances is what happens when you rush things–you make mistakes, forget things, or don’t present your best work.
The same is true for scholarship applications: if you try and rush to get them completed right before a deadline, you’re more likely to end up with a sub-par application that will lower your chances of winning any of the awards you apply for.
Plus, since many application deadlines can fall fairly close together, if you leave all your applications until the deadline, you will only have enough time to complete one or two, as opposed to completing lots of applications for lots of different scholarships.
It’s also important to note that many scholarship applications require school transcripts, references, and letters of recommendation from teachers, employers, or community group leaders. It can be hard to get these on late notice. Many schools need at least a few business days to produce a transcript for you, and people you ask for recommendation letters need time to write them properly. Plus, you’re asking them for a favour and for their time; it is inconsiderate to also ask them to rush through it.
The possible exception is when you only find out about a specific scholarship when the deadline is already close. While ideally you are doing your research and planning applications ahead of time, sometimes you can still learn about a scholarship fairly late in the process. If this happens, and you feel it’s a scholarship you are qualified for, then don’t ignore applying just because it’s late. Instead, work your hardest to write a solid application, and politely note in your letter that you’re aware your application is close to the deadline because you just learned of the scholarship. Don’t belabour this point, however; simply mention it and move right into describing why you believe you are a great candidate for the scholarship.