Scholarships top the paying-for-college wish list. As long as you meet the qualifications, you never have to pay the money back. So you don’t want to make these mistakes when applying...
1. Worrying too much about scholarship amounts.
It’s tempting to only apply for scholarships with dollar values greater than $10,000. However, if you don’t qualify, it doesn’t matter what the scholarship amount is. Talk to your high school counselor about the scholarships you’re more likely to win. Remember, ten $1,000 scholarships still add up to $10,000.
2. Missing a deadline.
The biggest mistake you can make when applying for a scholarship is missing the deadline, but there's more to it than just submitting your application on time. Make sure you also provide transcripts and letters of recommendation punctually. Allow two weeks to each person writing you a letter, and make sure it gets to you at least a few days before it’s due.
3. Not talking to your high school guidance counselor.
Everyone needs a scholarship coach. Luckily, you have a free one in your high school. Have your guidance counselor help you develop a scholarship strategy. You needn't wait until your senior year, either. It's never too early to begin thinking about paying for college. Some people start their scholarship search in elementary school!
4. Falling for scholarship scams.
You may receive e-mails asking for application fees, social security numbers, or bank account information. These could be scams to steal your personal information. Don’t fall for them. Always check with your high school guidance counselor to see if a scholarship is legit.
5. Applying for scholarships at the expense of grades.
Don't let your grades slip because you’re too busy filling out scholarship applications--you could end up losing out on college admission altogether. A good way to keep your scholarship search from becoming ridiculously time-consuming: dedicate a specific amount of time to the process. Even just two focused hours per week can go a long way.
6. Not looking at local scholarships.
Your local network contains a bunch of scholarships you may not know about: a student’s part-time job or a parent's employer may offer scholarships. Talk to HR departments at your employer and have your parents do the same.
7. Not reading the application carefully.
The application should tell you specifics: how long an essay should be, what the qualifications are, when the deadline is. If you don’t read the information, you may fill out the information wrong, forget supporting documents, or waste time applying for scholarships you don’t qualify for. Reading the requirements on applications only takes a few minutes, but it can save you from hours of gathering or writing the wrong information.