Earning an academic scholarship takes years of preparation and drive. Universities want the brightest students to attend their schools and will offer a number of academic awards to top qualifiers. Students interested in earning academic scholarships will quickly discover that the field is quite competitive. Scholarship committees take several factors into account, not just the applicant’s academic promise. To be considered, students must fill out their scholarship applications accurately and in full before the deadline. There are 10 main factors which play a role in a student’s likelihood of receiving an academic scholarship.
1. Grades – Students who have proven their ability and desire to learn are likely to excel in college. Straight A’s are important. Any advanced classes are a plus.
2. Activities – Most schools look beyond academic achievement to find students who can offer more than book smarts to the campus environment. School spirit and the ability to work well with others is demonstrated through participation in extracurricular activities.
3. Character – The smartest person in the room isn’t always the best choice for academic scholarships. Moral fiber and the ability to follow rules and regulations is also important. Decision-makers look for students with clean disciplinary records, both in and out of school.
4. Tradition – Students whose parents or siblings successfully attended the school have a greater chance of acceptance and earning college scholarships. There is often a place on the application to mention any family members who attended the university.
5. Test Scores – Although some colleges no longer rely on high entrance exam test scores for admittance, scholarship committees still pay attention. Preparatory classes may help students score well on these tests.
6. Creativity – Those who express their ability to think outside the box can impress scholarship committees with their creativity. While ignoring the rules isn’t encouraged, creativity can be shown through essay answers and the types of activities ad courses that interest the student.
7. Major – Applicants who have chosen a major and field of study come across as more organized and mature than their competitors who have not. Students should make sure that their school of choice offers their preferred major and field of study.
8. High School – Some high schools are better than others. Universities with an interest in students that are well-taught and have a strong record for success in college look at the applicant’s high school transcripts and the institution’s history. Those attending a college prep school may have a better foundation laid for college level coursework.
9. Achievements – A common question to answer on academic scholarship applications is a list of personal, academic and community achievements. Students should list all awards and honors earned, no matter how trivial they may seem. Spelling bees, science fairs, 4-H ribbons, soccer championships and student government offices are all noteworthy accomplishments.
10. Referrals – One of the highest honors a student can achieve is a sincere letter of recommendation from a teacher, coach or community leader. The letter should talk about a student’s positive qualities and note why they would be a good addition to the school. The letter should also state why the student is deserving of any college scholarships available.