There are some general steps you can take to make sure your scholarship application is viewed as a strong application. Review the following to ensure that your application stands out to the selection committee. If you have specific questions about the scholarship process visit financialaid.iastate.edu/scholarships or Student Financial Aid Office in 0210 Beardshear Hall.
Consider who you choose to recommend you. Having a fellow student, or someone who only knows you personally, recommend you doesn’t make as strong an impact as a recommendation from someone who has worked with you professionally. This could be a supervisor, a faculty member, an organization adviser, or an academic adviser. It’s best to request recommendations from people who know you well and can speak to award criteria.
Note that many recommenders (for example, faculty and staff in the Honors Program, student organization advisers, and Greek advisers) get multiple requests to recommend students for these awards. It is helpful if you give them as much lead time as possible so that they can complete all of the requests before the application deadline.
Also, give yourself as much lead time as possible so you can craft a thoughtful application and have time to check it over (or have someone else review it) for content and mechanics. Start early! Applications are available starting about two months before the deadline.
In general, reviewers look for:
- Depth of experience as well as breadth
- Concrete, reflective examples in essay
- Attention to detail – did you follow directions, proofread, and format the application so it’s readable?
For the leadership awards, really think about what “leadership” means:
- It could be holding an office, but might be something else or more than that
- Consider targeting your resume to highlight leadership achievements
- What does leadership mean to you? Define your philosophy
- Address specific examples of your leadership in your essay
Grammar & Spelling
- Proofread your materials before you submit them. Cover letters, resumes and essays with misspellings and typos suggest that the applicant hasn’t spent enough time or isn’t invested in doing an excellent job preparing the mat
- Ask someone else to proofread your materials as well. A second set of eyes can be very helpful.
- Proper sentence structure and grammar also indicate that you have put great thought and effort into your work. Reviewers note the quality of the materials.
- Consider seeking assistance at the Writing Center, located in 300 Carver Hall.
- For Presidential Leadership Initiative Awards, part of the application process is a cover letter indicating why this particular scholarship is fitting for you.
- If you are applying for more than one scholarship, you can submit one cover letter but must indicate why you would be an appropriate recipient for each award.
- Note the differences in the foci of the scholarships.
Answering the Question
Be sure that you’ve addressed all aspects of the essay question. Review your materials and be sure that you haven’t missed any aspect about which you are asked to write. Incomplete essays are viewed less positively by reviewers.
Quotes and Other Borrowed Ideas
If you use quotes or ideas that originated from someone else, you must give credit to that individual. This is true in a scholarship essay as well as in general writing. Give credit where credit is due.
You may want to follow up with those whom you ask to submit reference letters on your behalf to ensure that they have submitted the letters. If a letter is missing, the application is considered incomplete.