grants and scholarships

Grants, Scholarships, and MORE

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The Basics on Applying for a College Grant or Scholarship

Applying for a scholarship is a lot like applying for a job. For a job, you have to pay attention to the job posting. You have to address in a cover letter, resume, and interview all the skills and requirements listed within the job posting. The same is true for scholarships. Often, the sponsor of the scholarship will list requirements and qualities that they expect out of the candidate applying for their specific scholarship. You have to read the scholarship application, CAREFULLY. You need to sell yourself to the sponsor. You have to make sure that the sponsor feels comfortable that you are the best candidate worthy of the financial award. Here are some tips for the application process.

Often, we hear the frustration of the many people who applied for scholarships and did not hear anything from the scholarship organization. It is likely that you did nothing wrong. It really, REALLY may be that there were thousands of applications for the scholarship search committee to evaluate. It is very possible that you were among a lot of very qualified finalists, but someone else was chosen for the grant or scholarship. Every year, there are new students applying for the same scholarships. When applying for scholarships, you need to keep in mind that the competition for grant and scholarship money can be FIERCE. Simply put, there just is way too much demand and nowhere near enough supply of scholarship money.

It seems that a majority of scholarships require you to write a scholarship essay. Often, the essay for a scholarship amounts to be a personal statement type of essay. We know that it would be nice if there were a lot of easy scholarships with no essays or no essay contest, but there are reasons why scholarship essays are part of the scholarship application process.

If an organization is going to give money to a person, then the organization wants to make sure that the money will not be wasted. They want to pick an applicant who they feel will take that money, apply themselves, and succeed in reaching his/her educational and career goals.

Grade point average (GPA) can help decide who gets a grant. We know how difficult it is to get good grades. We KNOW. However, GPA is a way for the selection committee to help determine if you have the discipline and ability to do what is necessary to succeed.

Organizations look for evidence of selflessness, leadership, and the ability to succeed at just about anything that you put your mind to doing. This is where it is helpful to list as much relevant information that you can to help show them these attributes. This may include places of employment, volunteer efforts, academic achievements, associations, and community service. When possible, you may want to not only list accomplishments, but also indicate how you felt when volunteering, achieving success, and helping people.

Please follow and provide whatever is specified in the guidelines. Do not give less than what is required. You have to be very careful giving more than what is asked for. Some search committees might question if you can or cannot follow orders if you send in more. They may question if YOU think that you know more than them. Also, there are so many applicants that some committees look for any excuse to disqualify an application (like many job applications). It is a "tough call" for you to make about sending in more than what is required. Our best suggestion is just do NOT send in LESS than what is required.

Every scholarship is different and the sponsor is different. As we stated above, you need to treat applying for the scholarship like you would applying for a specific job for a specific organization. You need to get to know the organization and what the organization is looking for in a candidate. We will use a quote from a Union Plus Scholarship website. " Applicants for scholarships are evaluated according to academic ability, social awareness, financial need, and appreciation of labor."

It would be helpful to address each of the components listed in the application:

Let's use another example: Here is part of an older Wendy's advertisement on the Web. We highlighted the KEY statements that you need to address somehow, someway in your application.


What's it all about?

With your studies, job, sports and club activities, and volunteer work, you accomplish more each day than some people do in a week. That’s why the Wendy’s Classic Achiever® Scholarship Awards Program exists: to recognize graduating Canadian high school students like you who excel in academics, extracurricular activities and community service. And to encourage you to keep up the good work as you advance to college or university.

A commitment to young people

Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas had a strong belief in young people, and made an ongoing commitment to support their advancement and development. He encouraged them to pursue their aspirations to improve themselves and their communities.

With this philosophy in mind, Wendy’s Restaurants of Canada created the Wendy’s Classic Achiever® Scholarship Awards Program to recognize Canadian high school students in their graduating year who have not only worked hard, but have also given back to their communities; individuals who define the term "Classic Achiever."

“At Wendy’s, we’ve always had a strong belief in supporting the communities in which we live and work,” says Ron Baugh, Senior Vice-President, Wendy’s Restaurants of Canada. “We also believe the foundation of any healthy community is young people. Those of us who live and work with these vibrant individuals in our neighborhoods and schools take great delight in their passion, drive and enthusiasm – whether it’s for athletics, volunteer work, part-time jobs, extracurricular activities or yes, even academics. We feel honoured to be able to celebrate the achievements of young adults across Canada – and the Wendy's Classic Achiever® Scholarship Awards is our way of congratulating them on a job well done."


The Wendy's Classic Achiever Scholarship announcement on the web page is a GREAT example of how you can take that information and know what to write on the official application to help sell your abilities to Wendy's, or any organization.

It is hard for us to tell you how much to write. Many scholarships tell you how many words to write. If so, that makes things a little easier. However, if no word-limit is mentioned, then you need to make that decision on your own. Everyone is different and every sponsor is different. Some experts suggest keeping your essay answers concise and precise. You want to sell yourself, but do not do so by writing a NOVEL. There is concern that the search committees see a lot of applications (like thousands) and may have a tendency to skim over the essays and maybe just ignore anything that is too L O N G.


PLEASE check over spelling, punctuation, grammar, and etc. before sending the application. It may help if someone else proofreads everything. This is similar to sending in a job application. It is likely that there will be A LOT of applications. Some scholarship search committees may be looking for any excuse to toss the application.

Letters of Recommendation: It is important to have a few letters of recommendation from people who can write a very positive picture of you, including positive characteristics as mentioned above. The more impressive the letter sounds AND the more impressive the credentials of the person who is recommending you, THE BETTER. I work in a college so when a student-assistant asks me to write a recommendation letter, I use college stationary with the impressive college logo.

If you are not awarded the grant, please send a THANK YOU letter telling them that you appreciate them considering you for the grant (although they may not have noticed your application). The thank you letter can be a very effective means to get their attention the next time that you can apply for the grant.

More Advice on the Scholarship Application Process Including Sample Scholarship Essays

As we stated above, many people are looking for scholarships, especially easy, free scholarships without essays. The “no essay” scholarship is very hard to find.  There are some, but it seems like a majority of scholarships require an essay for the scholarship. We offered our own advice above, but following is some more advice from a variety of credible sources about the scholarship application process, especially advice on writing essays for scholarships. A couple of the following websites offer a sample scholarship essay. If you are looking for an example of a scholarship essay, then the following websites can help. We are not saying that these examples of scholarship essays are definitely “winning” essays, but if you have no clue on how to write a scholarship essay, then these examples will give you a good idea on how to write a scholarship essay.


San Francisco State University’s Office of Student Financial Aid provides an example of an essay for a scholarship application. There is more good advice on letters of recommendation and thank you letters. The sample scholarship essay is located at

 Estrella Mountain Community College will not give you an entire essay as an example, but they do give advice on the starting paragraph for four paragraphs of a scholarship essay. The advice for each paragraph is very helpful. You do not need the entire essay to see how you would fill in each paragraph.


San Diego State University has some sample essays at: and

 This web page was updated January 2023.

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