12 Common Mistakes Scholarship Applicants Make – Are You Guilty? 

common mistakes scholarship applicants make
common mistakes scholarship applicants make

The dream of studying in a top university of your choice can come through by getting a scholarship. Scholarships don’t just make your dream come through; they completely eliminate the chances of you being in student loan debts. However, scholarships, no matter the type, are a very competitive source of funding. This is because millions of students apply for various scholarships every year. If you want to increase your chances of obtaining a scholarship, consider the following common mistakes scholarship applicants make and avoid them at all costs.

  1. Inappropriate Social Media Profile.

Your social media profile says a lot about who you are and what you are about. This is the reason why organizations granting scholarships check applicants’ social media profiles to find out more about them. Revealing photos, foul language, inappropriate jokes, and bullying are very unacceptable. The above-mentioned can cost an applicant a chance at getting a scholarship or even losing an already won scholarship.

Before applying to college or university for scholarships, clean up your social media profiles.  It will save you the heartache of being denied funding or even having the funding retracted after it has been granted. You don’t want to miss a huge opportunity simply because of an old joke or picture.

2. Avoiding the Essay

Some scholarship applications request essay writing, such as a statement of purpose. Many students avoid optional essays because they are time-consuming to write. This is a common mistake scholarship applicants make. Essays are important, and attention-grabbing because they demonstrate commitment and ability to research. It also helps the scholarship administrators get to know you.

Your essay can include important information about your skills, background, experiences, talents, and dreams that aren’t typically included in the application or other paperwork that you send in to support your application. A well-written essay that answers the questions listed on the application can make a big difference in your scholarship application success.

3. Failing to Stand Out

To stand out among the thousands of scholarship applicants you need to put in your best foot first. Present what makes you special. The best way to present yourself in the best possible light is to have unique real-life experiences to highlight or a special cause you can showcase. 

Take the time to consider your extra-curricular activities and experience and look for ways to highlight them. List the meaningful causes you are part of. For example, you enjoy volunteering for different occasions be it at a local shelter or for a charity.

If you have a soft spot for children with special needs, or you offer your time at local hospitals or organizations serving kids with disabilities. This helps to showcase your service to your community. Even holding down a part-time job for an extended period will enhance your application, as it demonstrates responsibility and hard work.

4. Falling for Scam Scholarships

The problem of falling for scam scholarships is also classified as one of the common mistakes scholarship applicants make. This is because the time scholarship applicants waste working on these applications could be better spent on genuine scholarship opportunities.

Scholarships with vague information should always set off alarm bells. If a scholarship opportunity looks too good to be true, always double check it. Avoid scholarships that guarantee you will receive funding or that require applicants to pay a fee to submit applications. If it is a scholarship, then you naturally are not supposed to pay for it.  Another warning sign is a failure to list sponsor information.

It is important you look out for these warning signs so that you can spend your time concentrating on the genuine scholarships, giving them your full attention. Avoiding these common mistakes scholarship applicants make can increase your chances of receiving a scholarship award. 

common mistakes scholarship applicants make

5. Not Sending in All Appropriate Paperwork

A common mistake that can cost you your scholarship is failing to send all the appropriate paperwork. The paperwork you are required to submit with your application will vary depending on the scholarship you are applying for.

Common requirements include a copy of your photo ID, copies of your transcripts and diplomas, standardized test scores (depending on country), letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, and maybe a resume. In some cases, they may require copies of parents’ financial records. If the scholarship is based on ethnicity, you may need supporting documentation to verify your ethnic background.

Failing to send in the appropriate paperwork will result in your application being automatically denied. It is up to you to ensure that your application is in proper order. If your submission is incomplete or disorganized, it will likely be removed from consideration.

6. Starting Late

Starting late is one of the critical and common mistakes applicants make when applying for scholarships. The main reason scholarship applicants make critical errors, miss deadlines or submit mediocre applications is that they fail to start early.

Starting late often results in mistakes and a general lack of attention to detail that can make the difference between receiving a scholarship award or not. Always bear in mind that there are thousands of other applicants for the same scholarship. Early Preparation increases the odds of winning the scholarship by a great margin. Prepare like you would for a test or competition. 

If you are applying for postgraduate scholarships, it is best to start before you finish your undergraduate studies. Same way it is advisable to apply before you are done with high school if you intend to win an undergraduate scholarship.

7. Providing uninspiring content and inattentive writing

Most scholarship applicants make the mistake of not spending enough time refining the content of their essays. This leads to uninspiring content. They don’t realize that a lot depends on the kind of tone you adopt while applying for a scholarship.

Be it essays or general applications, you would want to maintain a positive outlook towards things. It would be best if you highlight your strengths, and even when you mention your flaws, define them in a way that inspires others to overcome such obstacles.

Picking an enticing topic for your essays is equally essential. You should be able to put together creative content that the reader must be drawn into. While many applicants are waiting in line, the selection panel will not spare a minute to reject your application if your writing skills are not up to the mark.

8. Not Paying Close Attention to Details

Having an eagle eye is a necessity in the quest to land a scholarship.  Reading in-between lines and a great sense of understanding is very important.  Once you’ve identified relevant scholarships to apply to, it’s now paramount to ensure each scholarship application you write is well-targeted for the opportunity in question.

Analyze and understand the essay or Statement of Purpose topic. Identify all the key words, take time to understand them.  And when you answer, strictly stick to the question, don’t answer out of context.

Also ensure you meet all the requirements for the scholarship. Some scholarships have particular targets based on age, gender, course of study or ethnicity. Ensure you meet the requirements, before spending time and energy applying.

9. Applying to every scholarship available

It is normal to think that the more scholarships one applies to, the better their chances of securing one. While this may be true in some cases, more often than not, having applications to a number that you can’t efficiently handle can hamper your chances.

With a large number of applications, your efficiency reduces which will definitely affect the quality of your applications.  You will often have to deal with overlapping due dates. As a result, you will always be in a rush instead of having enough time to refine your application. Compromising on quality may not be a good idea when a panel is looking for the best candidates to fill a few spots.

Maintaining a balance in the number of applications is the key here. You don’t want to be in a situation where you apply for a few scholarships and miss out on others. Nor would you want to apply to too many, leading to an overwhelming schedule. Know your limits when exhausting yourself through countless scholarship applications. Apply to scholarships that effectively cater to your strengths and interests.

10. Failure to do a Thorough Research on all Available scholarships.

Research on the schools offering the course you want to study, their process of application and requirements. You can also use search marching tools such as Unigo or Scholly. This will provide filters and keywords, and find the scholarships that fit your qualifications, experiences, and background.  Focus on the scholarships you are a good match for and forget the one that is misaligned. Don’t allow too many options to overwhelm you.

While numerous scholarships can be found online, there are some that simply aren’t listed on the web. Therefore, the need to network is very important. Local clubs, churches, and community associations may offer scholarships for students in a local community or metro area. Employers may provide scholarships for children of employees. Credit unions frequently offer scholarships to children of members. These options are ideal because the competition is relatively low, increasing your chances of obtaining funding.

There is no limit to how many scholarships you can apply for so don’t limit yourself by failing to research all the possibilities. 

11. Include Others in the Process

Network with people. Spread the word, reach out to your network and beyond, let everyone know you are applying for a scholarship. Contact past scholarship winners and even school teachers, professors and counselors.

Also get someone to go through your application with you. Let them proofread all that you have written and spot errors in them. Constructive criticism can help you do better in avoiding common mistakes scholarship applicants make.

12. Neglecting to Keep Up to Scholarship Requirements

After winning a scholarship, you are still required to abide by the terms and conditions binding it. 

Maintaining a certain CGPA is often the key requirement most times. Falling behind the required CGPA can cost you an already gotten scholarship.


Little things that matter so much

  • Make a checklist. A quick look at the list and guidelines, and you can always keep things in check before sealing the envelope. Remember, submitting an incomplete application is worse than submitting a bad one.
  • Ensure you provide the right email address for ease of communication. And always remember to check your email regularly.
  • Never use impossible-to-read fancy font
  • Do not use illegible handwriting
  • Do not Submit an old photo as your ‘recent’ picture
  • Avoid mailing the envelope, without the application itself 
  • Never Forget to include your name and address.

Just as importantly, spending the time to assess your application may provide insights into your life that will serve you well no matter what the outcome. Put time and effort into planning your scholarship applications and you will find that your hard work will pay off.


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