What I Learned After Reviewing Hundreds of Scholarship Applications (+5 Pro Tips)



Being a scholarship judge is hard– sometimes because I have to choose only one winner, sometimes because I have to choose a winner.

Sometimes, reviewing applications is a delight; other times, it’s a chore. While it’s true that volume has a lot to do with it (imagine reading hundreds of essays on the same topic), the quality of each application is, ultimately, the deciding factor.

As a judge for The University Network’s #ShareTheGoals Scholarship, I have reviewed hundreds of scholarship entries on a monthly basis. And if there’s one thing that I learned (the hard way), on behalf of the applicants, it is this: not following instructions will betray your efforts.

Let me explain.

#ShareTheGoals Scholarship – $10,000 – Monthly Winners Plus A Grand Winner

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In the beginning, we used to notify applicants of incomplete submissions, letting them know what they were missing or how they can properly enter the scholarship competition. But that soon became impossible with the amount of submissions we started receiving. Naturally, a new rule was set in place: incomplete application results in immediate disqualification.

It’s an unfortunate reality that students spend all their time writing wonderful essays or creating awesome graphics/videos only to be disqualified because they didn’t follow the rules.

So what must students do to ensure that this doesn’t happen to them?

Monica Matthews, the scholarship mom who helped her son win $100,000 in scholarship money, advises:

[When submitting scholarship applications], students must submit mistake free scholarship applications, meticulously following all guidelines and submitting all required materials.”

And she is absolutely right.

If I may add: proper submission comes before quality submission! Without proper submission, your quality submission simply goes to waste.

+ Here are 5 Pro Tips to Getting Your Scholarship Entry NOTICED

1. Greetings & Introduction Matter

As I’ve noted before, reviewing scholarships can become dull (and even daunting) after a while. As with any other tasks, it can feel robotic to read essays after essays after essays.

Pro Tip: Write a short intro and greet the person reviewing your scholarship entry. You’d be surprised to see how a simple greeting can make a huge difference in perception and reception. (See: Email Etiquettes #2 and #3).

2. Use a Proper & Professional Email Address

This one is obvious, if you want the judges to take you seriously.

Pro Tip: If possible, use your school (.edu) email address, and make sure to actually check your email in case the judges need to contact you!

3. Don’t write a thesis paper – tell a story.

According to Monica Matthews, “judges look for solid students who have helped others and write their scholarship essays from the heart.” I agree. Reading scholarship essays shouldn’t be like reading a textbook. If you’re just listing facts, you’re doing what the majority of the applicants are doing, and that’s not going to make yours stand out.

Pro Tip: Get personal! Be creative! Don’t be afraid to share your story.

4. Make sure you send the correct links…

I get it – you didn’t mean to send the link to your friend’s Facebook page or your online homework platform. But you can’t blame anyone but yourself… By sending the wrong links, your chance of winning the scholarship just dropped to zero! :s

Pro Tip: Triple check that you copy pasted the correct link (and that the link is not broken)!

5. Cross the t’s and dot the i’s!

To reiterate and sum up everything I’ve said in 4 words, be meticulous and thorough!

Pro Tip: After you’ve made your final edits, take a 24-hour break, then look through the whole application one last time before clicking that ‘send’ button!


Instructions are meant to be followed, and guidelines are meant to help you! 

If you want your scholarship application to be taken seriously, you seriously have to follow the rules & make your application stand out from the rest!


Want more pro tips– or hacks– to winning scholarships? Read this ⤦

The Complete Guide to Scholarship Hacks

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