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Scholarships, I'm scared

I'm looking into scholarships, but i'm scared that i'm not going to be able to find one. I have seen a number of different scholarships and the requirements seem attainable, but i know that a number of people also compete for them. I'm also scared that i'm going to beaten in the process. Is there anything that could help me sort of stand out or will i have to just hope my experiences meet and surpass the requirements? #scholarships #competition #academics

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Ryan’s Answer

It's great that you're looking at scholarships in the first place. It can't be overstated how valuable getting someone else to pay for school is. That being said, there is a bit of competition when it comes to applying for scholarships.

My advice when applying would be to do two things.

The first would be to apply to as many scholarships as possible. Even if you aren't awarded most of them, the more you apply to, the more likely you are to find one that fits with your profile. Remember, scholarships are awarded to students based on the criteria of that particular program. So while someone might be a good fit for one scholarship, they may not be a good fit for another.

The second thing I would do would be to highlight why you think you deserve the scholarship. In particular, what about your personal experiences makes you someone the donors want to give money to. Have you done any volunteer work that demonstrates their core values? Did your family have to overcome great adversity to get you to where you are now? Is there a particular hobby that you love that might qualify you for a specific scholarship? These are the kind of questions I would be answering in my statement for a scholarship.

Don't worry, applying to scholarships shouldn't be a scary activity. Think of it as a way to showcase all of the wonderful things that you've done and interesting quirks that make you who you are.

Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for your response! I greatly appreciate this, I will definitely do this. I hadn't thought of scholarships like that, i always saw them as intense competition. Thank you for answer! Ignacio
Thank you comment icon thank you for this advice Maeve
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(Cos) Ofer’s Answer

My experience with scholarships is that I thought they were a lot more important than they actually were. All of the colleges I applied to had "need-blind admissions", which means they decide whether to admit you or not without looking at how much you can pay. Then there's the financial aid process, which was based on a standard formula for how much you or your parents could afford to pay. All the schools used this formula, and then filled in the difference with financial aid.

Since I was not going to be able to afford to pay anywhere near the full price for any of the schools I applied to, I was going to get need-based financial aid anyway. Unless I got enough scholarships to more than make up that amount, then all the scholarships did was to decrease my "need" and therefore decrease the amount of need-based financial aid I was qualified for. And practically speaking, in my case, there was no chance at all that I'd get enough scholarships to fill my entire need.

Imagine for example that you're going to a school that will cost $25,000/year (tuition, housing, fees, living expenses) and the formula says you / your parents can afford to pay $5,000/year. That means you qualify for $20,000/year in financial aid. Now you get $5,000 in scholarships... so your "need" goes down to $15,000/year and the school only arranges $15,000/year financial aid for you that first year. You still have to pay the $5,000/year you can afford to, in addition to the $5,000 in scholarships you got.

Scholarships did matter somewhat. Need based aid is a mix of grants and loans. If you get scholarships, some of that money will reduce your grant aid, but some of it will reduce your loan aid. For example, maybe the school would've given you $8,000 in grants and $12,000 in loans, but now that you only need $15,000, they give you $6,000 in grants and $9,000 in loans. As a result, you have $3,000 less in student loan debt after you graduate.

Keep in mind that student loans don't start requiring payment (or charging interest) until after you finish college.

Basically, scholarships are good and help you out in the future, but I really shouldn't have stressed out about them nearly as much as I did. They did not at all affect my chances of going to college, paying for college, or my financial situation while in college. They did somewhat reduce my student loan debt after college, though not by a large percentage.

You might be in a different situation, of course. Perhaps you're applying to some schools that aren't need-blind admissions. Or maybe your family is wealthy enough that you're not going to get need-based aid anyway. Or you're going to schools that are so inexpensive that you can get enough scholarships to fill all your need and then some. Scholarships may matter more for you than they did for me. But these are the things you should look into to find out.

Thank you comment icon thank you for sharing Maeve
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Neelakshi’s Answer


My first response will be: You won't get it unless you apply:-)!! In your words "I have seen a number of different scholarships and the requirements seem attainable" then why not put the best foot forward and apply. Even if you don't get it, you will have an assurance that you tried your best. Also, apply to as many as you can and make the statement of your purpose SOP stronger by convincing them about why you are the best candidate. Mention your achievements and goals. Trust me once you finish writing, you will be amazed how much you have attained in your life. As for the competition, life in general is one and you shouldn't be scared of that. Competition in turn makes it more interesting. Do you think winning a race is more enjoyable when you are running all alone or when competing with others to get to the finish line?!

So wish you all the very best,

Thank you comment icon thank you so much Maeve