Completing a Scholarship Application
Scholarships require you to:
- understand the requirements
- make sure you are qualified
- fill out an application
- write a personal statement
- get recommendation letters
Dr. Waite has served on scholarship committees and can tell numerous stories about applicants who are unqualified. So, be sure that understand the qualifications for each scholarship you apply for. If the organization wants to sponsor printing management students, don’t apply if your focus is in videography.
When completing scholarship applications, be sure that every field is filled out. Leave nothing blank. If you have no answer for a given item, write NA in the blank.
Never lie or exaggerate on applications. This can cause an awarded scholarship to be withdrawn. Make sure that every item that is requested, such as a transcript, is included with the package that you submit.
If the scholarship requires an essay, write a meaningful letter addressed to the committee. Do not use the same letter for every organization. Tell the reader(s) why they should fund you. What will they get from funding you? In other words, what will their return on investment be?
Tailor your statement to the particular funding agency. Go online and find out about them. Make sure that your letter conveys your knowledge and understanding of the funding organization.
If you have a few skeletons in your closet (maybe a questionable first year of college), explain them and then tell how and why you are doing better now. Many digital media majors have had issues during freshman and sophomore years only to "flower" when they begin to focus on digital media courses. If that is the case, explain it.
Preparing for a Recommendation Letter
If you want a good recommendation letter, you have to provide your recommender with “ammunition.” In other words, the one writing a letter for you needs to have good things to say about you. Consider a student who comes in late for class most days. Or, how about somebody who habitually forgets to do quizzes, turns in work late, or blows off assignments? Finally, what about the student who never says anything in class or never visits the professor during office hours? What can the recommender say? You need to shine so that the recommender can simply attest to your brightness.
One of the best things you can do to prepare for recommendation letters is to belong to the student and/or professional organizations. GCEAUH is an excellent way to show your dedication (which you want your recommender to be able to mention) and your leadership qualities. This is especially true if you take on a leadership role within the group.
You should only request recommendation letters from people you know well. In addition, the people who you ask to write about you should be able to comment on your abilities relative to the funding agency’s goal. In other words, if you are applying for a print-related scholarship, a recommendation from your mom or minister is not appropriate.
If you are going to ask a UH professor or staff member to write a letter of recommendation for you, you must first complete a Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) form. Download the official FERPA Release Form, and hand it to the UH employee along with any instructions the scholarship agency provides. Sometimes, scholarship organizations want recommenders to fill out a specific form. In other cases, they want specific questions answered. Some just want general information. No matter what, make sure the recommender knows what is expected of him or her.