One of the biggest reasons why students don’t apply for scholarships is because they don’t think they’ll win. Let’s face it — few of us have climbed Mount Everest and started two companies, or persevered through endless adversity. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t win! 

Here’s a little insight that most students miss when they’re in the middle of the scholarship process:

Scholarships are judged by people and people are always biased! Make sure to do thorough research on the organization that is sponsoring the scholarship. If it’s a non-profit, what’s their mission? If it’s a company, what’s their culture? Look at these organizations’ past work and see if you can determine which traits they especially value. If you understand who is sponsoring the scholarship, you’ll have a leg up on whoever blindly applies. 

Based on what you learn from your research fine-tune your scholarship essay and application to fit the sponsoring organization. Now that you know the people who are judging the scholarship, you can make them identify and empathize with you. To do so, choose an essay topic that is at once relatable and unique. Humans, by nature, share the same goals and insecurities. How we individually achieve our goals and cope with our insecurities is unique. Make the person reading your application say, “I’ve totally been there” and I guarantee your chances of winning the scholarship will skyrocket. 

Lastly, remember that applying for scholarships is a process. You won’t win every scholarship you apply to, but you learn how to become a better applicant after each scholarship you apply for. If you recycle and improve on your ideas as you apply for different scholarships, you’ll set yourself up for success.