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Scholarship Application: Evaluation Process

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cholarships are much coveted and much sought after by both new and existing college students. Most scholarships have hundreds–if not thousands–of people applying for them. These people all have the same goal: to be awarded money for school. If you are reading this, you are probably considering entering this mass pool of applicants, if you haven’t already. So, before you start applying (or continue applying) for scholarships, I thought it might be helpful to explain the way in which scholarship applications are evaluated by the organizations that award them.

Generally, organizations have a three-tiered process for looking at applications. Or, if you are a sports or theatre-minded individual, three “cuts”.

The first “cut” or tier separates the wheat from the chaff. Basically, this means that the applications in which the applicants have met all eligibility requirements, have provided all the requested information, and filled the application out LEGIBLY are separated from the applications that are missing elements, can’t be read without a decoder, or don’t meet the requirements. This is done quickly, with not much attention paid to content.

The second “cut” or tier separates is the one in which the applicants that “just” meet the requirements are separated from the applicants that the organization feel are a “good fit”. This is where GPA and coursework is really looked at and compared, and the essays are read for the first time. To make it past this tier and into the next usually requires a strong essay and an above-average GPA for the pool of applicants.

If your application makes it through the second tier, you are generally considered to be a good fit for the scholarship. Now, the evaluators start looking at elements that mark you as an “exceptional” candidate instead of just a “great” candidate. The things looked at here often have nothing to do with academics at all. It is this space where community work is looked at, extra-curricular activities (be it in sports or the arts), and leadership roles are evaluated. Generally, scholarship committees are looking for exceptional “well-rounded” candidates. After they have narrowed it down to a few potential recipients, the scholarship committee will often set up interviews to get a more personal feel for the remaining candidates.

And then the recipient is chosen.

So, to make yourself more attractive to scholarship committees in hopes of being awarded these free monies, remember:

  • Fill out your application COMPLETELY and LEGIBLY
  • ONLY apply if you are ELIGIBLE
  • Write a STRONG essay
  • Be INVOLVED in your community (both inside and outside of school)

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