In our last education guide, EXTRA addressed the issue of high drop-out rates among Latinos in higher education. In this month’s education guide, we focus on the positive. In 2011, the Pew Hispanic Center revealed that the number of Latino students in higher education is on the rise. More Latinos in college means more competition for Latinos applying for the scholarships that cater to minorities. Here is a guide to creating a competitive scholarship application.
Select scholarships of your choice
With the soaring price of college, getting a scholarship is important. The first step in the process is selecting the scholarships you want to apply for. This means scouring all of the resources available to you. Friends or family members may know of or have received a scholarship that you are also eligible for.
It’s good to select at least a handful of scholarships. Even if you have a perfect GPA and are the most involved student in your high school, there’s always a chance that your application gets simply overlooked, or perhaps the format itself is overwhelming to look at and is pushed aside in the selection process. Remember, there’s always someone better than you and that person could be applying for the same scholarship as you.
Start selection process early
Make sure you start the selection process well in advance so you can devote the time you need to curate a meticulous application. Most high school students should probably start applying for scholarships between their junior and senior year. In the selection process, take note of the deadline of the scholarships and pay close attention to the eligibility requirements.
Make sure you stay organized
Keep a worksheet that lists the scholarships you’re applying for and their deadlines. Start assembling all the components of your application and taking steps to acquire the documents that you need to ask for in advance. For example, a high school transcript, a teacher recommendation, or financial aid forms. Keep copies of some of these documents and make sure you save your application, even after you’ve sent it in.
Writing a cover letter and resume
The cover letter–sometimes called an essay or personal statement depending on your scholarship—is your opportunity to include information that makes you unique. This is your chance to give a human side to your application. Make sure you showcase your activities in a way that gives glimpses into your personality, a sense of who you are. The resume must be very detailed oriented and will probably feel the least like “you.” Make sure it is organized in a way that’s easy to look at and separated into categories that relate to what the scholarship is looking for in a candidate. For example, if the scholarship is looking for students involved in community service, then include a category in your resume that says “Community Service,” and list the sites where you worked underneath.
You don’t have to create a new resume and cover letter for each scholarship. However you do have to tweak each one for each scholarship. This might just involve rearranging the categories on your resume while keeping all of the same activities, or deleting one paragraph of your cover letter and swapping it for another.
Do not lose track of your goal
Throughout the application process, it’s important to not lose track of your goal– toget an application that represents you best before the deadline. Always keep in mind the long-term benefits of applying for scholarships, to find a role model that you can look up to. As more Latinos enter institutions of higher learning, the stakes are raised and the quality of your applications for scholarships is more important than ever before.
This post is also available in: Spanish
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