How to Apply for Scholarships Online

Let’s discuss how to apply for scholarships online and what do you need to know.

Okay so first things first…’s going to take work. Lots of work!!!

Researching and finding scholarships is one piece of it but then the application to it is the other half. And again it’s work and takes effort. Think about when you apply to a job online. Next time you do time how long it takes you complete the whole process. I bet it’s somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour. Same can be said when applying for college scholarships.

In my professional career of working in higher education, I was once told that there are many scholarships that are never paid out because parents and soon to be college students shy away from the application process. This can actually work in your favor.

Secondly, it’s a numbers game. Much like applying for colleges it’s probably not in our best interest to put our eggs in one basket I mean that would be idea right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. So again it’s a numbers game. Apply to all that you are able to apply to.

This gets us into the scholarship mindset. Make it part of your routine and part of your daily routine. Section off some time during the day to work on this again this is going to separate yourself from the competition and that’s how you have to look at the other applicants if you aggressively are wanting to receive scholarships.

Word of Caution When Applying for Scholarships Online

**One thing to note that I wanted to mention in the previous post when applying for scholarships online. If you are ever prompted to pay for scholarships or for the searches then more than likely it’s not legitimate. And unfortunately there are cases like that out there. 

Some places/services you will see say that they “guarantee” you will get a scholarship. If you see that….RUN FOR  THE HILLS!!!!

To find the scholarships is completely free so anyone that is charging you for this is running the scam of the century.  

Look Out For the Following Phrases has some great tips on what to avoid especially if the following phrases are displayed:

  • “Guarantee” or “Money Back”
  • You’ve Been Selected
  • “Costs”
  • “Limited Access”
  • “Done for you”

What’s Needed when Applying for Scholarships Online

Next two things are the cog in the wheel for the application of scholarships and that is:

  • Letters of recommendation
  • College Application Essay

Letters of Recommendation

The site We Are Teachers has some great advice for the structure of the letter. For students seeking to obtain these letters this is a good format to ensure that person writing the recommendation has followed.

  • Formal salutation opening (i.e. “To Whom It May Concern”)
  • Introduce the student – This should be done in the first paragraph
  • Write about character – This can appear in paragraphs 2 and 3
  • Direct recommendation – Ensure that there is a conclusion leading to a direct recommendation
  • Appropriate closing – Contact information
  • Keep it under a page
  • Proofread Proofread Proofead!!!

Scholarship Application Essay

So now let’s talk about the essay. For several years I chaired a committee that gave a $15,000 scholarships to nursing students. For hours I would read and read hundreds of essays. Well guess what happens after a while? They all start to blend together. I couldn’t even differentiate some of them because they were all starting to sound the same.

My point in this is to pivot and go into another direction with your essay or question responses. Don’t be afraid show your personality. In fact that is what I wanted to see so I can say “okay this person is unique and are standing out from the crowd.”

There is a fine balance between the instructions and then stepping outside of the norm to let who you are as an individual show. The key is grab the attention and engage the one reading it. Sit and think for a moment what makes you unique. Start looking deep inside and you’ll find the answers. As parents we may know already why children are unique but as the one applying you have to believe it.

So maybe keep two version around and get 4 or 5 of the closest people to you read it. I remember always being able to tell the ones that were refined, proofread, and tailored based on suggestions as opposed to the ones that were just put together the night before.


Going Merry has some great tips and below is based on my professional experience:

  • Write about what’s important to you – This is where you want to be different and catch the attention of the person reading it
  • Recount and reflect – Showcase your ability to be self-reflective. Its important trust me!
  • Balance the funny – Nerves (even in writing) can be overwhelming and therefore our natural reaction may be to be funny. I always used to get amused when reading funny bits in the essays but if overdone it can become too much
  • Write several drafts – Tweak and edit and alter all you can. You want this to be perfect.
  • No repetition – Avoid repetition and contradictions
  • Questions are answered – Ensure what you are being asked is answered. This shows that you take well to directions

More than likely the scholarship applications are being read in a big room with about 5-7 other representatives. Think about how your essay reads. Read it out loud to people. See if it’s engaging.

Final Thoughts

So I want to leave you with a few thoughts in shifting the mindset when we think about scholarships. The first thing is not to think of it as an impossible thing to achieve. So much money never gets awarded to each year because of the lack of applications. They are there for you to apply to. You just need to be organized and have a plan of action.

  • Its take work and effort – This is what separates us from the next person. Think about all the scholarships out there and the effort it takes to apply for just one. Much like a job application, it’s long and tedious and most people aren’t going to do that work. Be the person that takes the action and does the work.
  • Understand the application process – When you submit, don’t be afraid to ask what the next step is?” I used to give a timeframe to all the application this way they know what to expect
  • Be different….let your personality show – We talked about this above but remember this is about YOU. Let the individual that you are be shown and displayed for everyone to see.

Keep applying – Keep moving forward. Ba aggressive with the frequency rate that you are applying for the scholarships. Also note that you can apply for scholarships while you are in college. This is not just a one shot deal. New scholarships also come out every year so it’s a cycle and a cycle you should keep tabs on.

Plan Accordingly

When do you start planning? The answer is now!!! Do not wait or put this off. The individuals that I have seen with the most success are the ones that had an aim, were proactive, and put in the work. For parents and students doing this at the last minute really is not a recipe for success. With a proper plan in place, then your chances of success will be much greater.

Tuition Drop Podcast

In conjunction to this post, you can check out Episode 2 of the Tuition Drop Podcast.

Tuition Drop Podcast – How to Apply for Scholarships Online
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