Guide to Applying

There are many different types of financial aid out there, but among the most popular, and understandably so, are scholarships. In deciding that you’re going to apply for scholarships, you are committing yourself to a time-consuming but beneficial process. Aside from the obvious financial payoff, applying for scholarships allows you to discover a little bit more about yourself and just why you’re so unique. This page will help you become familiar with the different components of a scholarship application.

Scholarship Application Checklist

These are all common things that scholarship applications ask for. Ensuring that you have these items when completing your scholarship search will help the application process as well as help organize ideas for scholarship essays!

What do selection committees look for?

Most scholarship selection committees look to reward well-rounded, active, and accomplished students, particularly in the following areas:

Most scholarship committees are not looking for all of these requirements. Many are only looking for one or two, and by far the most common requirements are Academics, Leadership, and Work Experience. However, as a potential applicant, it’s important to keep in mind how you fulfill each of these requirements.

Essays and Written Applications

Many scholarships require an essay in addition to the application form. These essays are important because they communicate your values and opinions to committees.

Here are some tips for writing your scholarship essays:

Some common essay questions to prepare an answer to include:

Tell us about yourself.
What’s your most significant (academic) achievement?
Who or what has influenced you the most and why?
What are your life/ career/ academic goals?
How will this scholarship help you achieve your goals?
Why should we select you for this scholarship?

If you would like more help writing your scholarship essay, please visit the Writing Center in Watzek Library.

Résumés and Lists of Activities

Many scholarships want a list of your activities, both on and off campus. This list is not only useful for the committee, but for you as well. Make sure to include things such as leadership, service, work, athletics, awards & honors, and internships. Your list should include:

  • The name of each activity
  • A comprehensive description of the activity
  • What you specifically did
  • When your involvement started and ended
  • The approximate among of hours per week you devoted to the activity

Visit the Career Center in Templeton Campus Center for more help with constructing the perfect resume.

Letters of Recommendation

One important consideration many students overlook when applying for scholarships is choosing the best people to write letters of recommendation. The people who recommend you paint a picture of you for selection committees, and you want to make sure that you’re painting a positive, well-rounded portrait.

  • Ask for recommendations from people (professors, supervisors, advisors, etc.) who know you well.
  • Consider the goal(s) of the scholarship. If it’s a physics scholarship, it will probably help you to get letters of recommendation from your physics professors, rather than your philosophy professors.
  • Provide a résumé, as well as some strong project or paper you completed to the people from whom you’re asking for recommendations. This will allow them to write more specifically about your skills and accomplishments.


Many larger scholarships require an interview. This is an opportunity for you to show the passion you have for what you do and your desire to continue successfully.

  • Keep a neat appearance. Although this might seem unimportant, your appearance gives committees an impression of your degree of professionalism and how much you care about the scholarship. Consider dressing in semi-formal or formal business attire, even if it’s not requested.
  • Be prepared. Make sure that you’re familiar with what you wrote in your application as you may be asked to elaborate on it.
  • Keep your answers succinct, but be sure to answer the question. Interviews are only allotted for certain periods of time, and wordiness often doesn’t help your chances of receiving the scholarship.
  • Practice interviews. Gather together a group of friends or faculty and have them give you a mock interview to prepare you for what’s ahead and perhaps relieve a few of those jitters. And speaking of jitters, it’s okay to be nervous; committees expect it.