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1. Begin thinking about why you need a scholarship. You might be asked to state how financial assistance will help you, and what do you plan to do (or contribute to society) with the education and financial resources you receive?
2. Think about any hardships or challenges you've faced. Consider community service that you have completed and why you are unique. Scholarship committees want to see your essence through the words you write in your application or via an essay.
3. Make sure you have plenty copies of recommendations, transcripts and essays on hand for any available scholarships. However, be prepared to make adjustments to fit the criteria for each scholarship.
4. Gather 3-5 recommendations and make a lot of copies for submitting to any scholarship agency that wants them. Ask professors, employers, clergy, community members, school officials that know of your character and qualities to write a recommendation for you well before any due dates (be sure to send only what the committee requests). Recommendations from family members, siblings, grandparents, friends or relatives are usually not a good idea unless a scholarship committee allows it.
5. When you research scholarships, keep a file of any that fit your profile even if they have expired. Then check to see if the scholarship(s) is offered annually and when. If it is an annual scholarship prepare any required essays and garner any recommendations or other materials requested. Next time the deadline rolls around you will be prepared.
6. Exhaust every avenue to find scholarships and don't give up. Check this website and attend scholarship seminars.
7. Strictly adhere to all scholarship guidelines and provide any materials that are requested on time.
8. Please be sure to have someone with strong editorial skills review your application and/or essay for typos, clarity, interest, completeness and accuracy.
9. Many scholarships go unclaimed because students don't apply, but remember the money doesn't have to be paid back and having funding could help you achieve your educational goals.
10. Apply for ARC Foundation Scholarships beginning in January.
Bonus Tip: Apply for local, regional, state and national scholarships. Also increase your odds by applying for little known scholarships where the competition may not be as steep.