Every year I reviews scholarship applications. I sit on at least two committees. And here is what does or does not impress me and may or may not impress your other graders.
1. Incomplete packages – The easiest packages to review are those that are incomplete. They maybe missing items, information, seals, or signature. The larger the stack to review, the faster these go to the not this year stack.
2.The second easiest are those that might need one question answered, however, if the grader cannot contact the applicant through email or phone, then you may have chosen to be self-eliminated.
3. Respond – If a grader takes time to contact you with a request, respond in a timely manner. Waiting six days or even a few weeks can tell the caller you don’t care. They probably didn’t call you to waste your time and the lesson learned may apply to your next application.
4. Read your essays out LOUD. One essay proudly proclaimed that they tortured elementary students in math. I think they meant tutored. Check your capitalization, your punctuation, your “I” vs “i”, just to name a few. At this point many may say our generation doesn’t communicate the old fashion way with paragraphs and indents. LOL. Consider your audience who is reviewing your package. My generation is still impressed with individuals who can use English intelligently. One person listed Europe and Africa as countries, both are continents.
5. Letters of recommendation should reflect knowledge of the candidate. The author should identify themselves, show they know you specifically, and the purpose of the recommendation. Very rarely does a generic letter for college acceptance, scholarship award, and hiring surpass a letter specifically addressed for a single purpose. PS We all like to hear our names, so ask your writers to specify.
6. Explain the elephant in the room. Did you have a semester with a low-grade point average? Is your list of school and community activities sparse? If there is a reason, highlight the facts behind your choice. Listing zero for an income, but not explaining how a family of 4 survives can cause doubt. In addition, you should explain f your name is not included on your submitted tax form.
7. Take advantage of space, especially with your list of extracurricular activities. Do not assume that the graders know what your club accomplishes. How long have you been a member? What is your role?
8. Consider ensuring that your name is located conveniently on each page of a multi paged package. You want to make it easy for graders to recreate your package if they drop it on the floor, however, you should not increase their workload by placing each entry in its own clear sleeve or requiring them to remove multiple staples.
9. Late packages. “Return Completed Not Later Than” should not be considered “Post marked by”. If you send your package snail mail it can take over a week to arrive. Point in fact, two packages were postmarked 25 Jan. One arrived 9 Feb and the other 11 Feb. I sent chapter choices out on 9 Feb using express mail to reach the next required stop by 11 Feb.
10. Finally, I always say that I will review packages that request that help. So if you want that help 1) send your package in early and 2) mark your package or notify me that you want me to review upon receipt, please.