You have applied to your dream university (and a few backups, of course). You are anxiously awaiting to learn whether you were accepted to your No. 1 choice. Finally, the envelope arrives. You were accepted! Congratulations!  

Then reality sets in. Attending college is expensive. A great way to lower the cost is by applying for scholarships. Here are a few practical tips that will help you fill out scholarship applications:  

  1. Learn about the organization that administers the scholarship for which you are applying. Understanding the organization or company’s mission will help you write your essay or personal statement. 

  2. Collect everything you need to complete the application before you start. Doing so will help you stay focused and organized. 

  3. Don’t use acronyms such as JROTC. Spell out the names of organizations. The acronym you use might not be familiar to people reading your application. 

  4. Have a clear understanding of the transcript requirement. Does it need to be an official transcript sent by your high school or an unofficial list of classes and grades? 

  5. Ask people you know well to write letters of recommendation. A school advisor/counselor, club advisor, teacher, coach/instructor or manager/supervisor are all excellent choices.  

  6. Give people writing letters of recommendation plenty of time to write and submit the letter before the application deadline. If there are any requirements for the letter, provide that information as well.  

  7. Carefully read the essay or personal statement prompts and follow the directions. For example, Kiwanis Children’s Fund asks, “Describe how your studies will help you achieve your goals while benefiting the lives of others.” We need to understand what you are studying, how your studies will help you achieve your goals and how that will benefit the lives of others.  

Reading the instructions before you start, meeting deadlines and following these tips will help you successfully submit your scholarship applications. Remember, many students are applying for the same scholarships. Last year, the Kiwanis Children’s Fund received 1,245 applications for five scholarships. The more scholarships you apply for, the better your chances of being awarded one. Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out to the contact for the scholarship program with questions.  

Good luck! 

Rhobie Bentley is a program specialist for the Kiwanis Children’s Fund, overseeing grants and scholarships.