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All Scholarship Applications are Alike, Right?

By Dale Clifton, The Scholarship Doctor

Evaluating thousands of scholarship applications has

definitely left an impression on me. I still remember

some of them, because the students who submitted them

managed to get into my head in a personal way.

Many books and articles will tell you that "personalization"

is good, but they don't tell you how to accomplish

that. I saw a photo attached to an app showing the

senior student shaking hands with the President of

the United States. Another enclosed an audio tape that

revealed his talent to play the fiddle in a country

band. A girl had her photograph taken with a well-

known professional golfer after she had won a state

tournament. A boy included a picture of his debating

trophies. Another had won a two day fishing tournament

and held the trophy in a picture to prove it. Another

had built his own computer. Still, another had patented

her own invention, a device for counting inventory

units. In each case the items were part of the

requirements of the scholarship award, not just thrown

in for effect. These are super examples of

"personalizing" a scholarship application, but it

doesn't have to be that noticeable.

There were also attempts at personalization not well

received, a picture of a girl in a very tiny bikini.

The word thong comes to mind. Another included prize

ribbons with a request to return them when the judging

was over. We had to send them back at our own expense!

Another application had an algebra homework assignment

inside, oops. We sent that back, too. Her siblings

were probably blamed for its disappearance. One

application had a Santa Claus hat inside. It came

from Alaska. I'm still trying to figure that one out.

Why is personalization so important? Imagine that you

are on the committee, sitting around a table with 247

scholarship forms. It is the committee's job to pick a

winner. All of the apps appear to look alike. All

things being equal, which one is going to be chosen?

It's impossible to say. But, let's suppose that one

personalized his/her request and made it stand out

positively from the rest. Now, someone has taken the

time to be bold, inventive and creative. They have made

it possible for the scholarship committee to know more

about who they are. They are more than a just a piece

of paper with a name on it. They have revealed intimate

sides to their personalities. Who will win now? The

choice is obvious.

Personalize don't dramatize. Use good judgment and

common sense when personalizing. Try to imagine who

the people are making up the committee. Then, send in

your request knowing that, out of all who sent their

forms, you are the one who will win. You are the person

who deserves the money.

Planning produces positive outcomes when the

scholarship effort is truly a family affair.

About The Author
©2006 The Scholarship Doctor, Dale Clifton - All Rights Reserved

Dale is an educational consultant and expert at helping families win college scholarships.

To learn more about planning to win scholarships visit

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