We are very passionate about helping students go to college debt free. As such, we saw it fit to write a post on how students can go to college debt free. One of the things that can help students go to college debt free is a scholarship. As you read through this post, we hope we can help you prepare the complete scholarship application package.
Firstly, you want to be sure to submit a complete application and all the supplementary documents that are required for the application. This may seem simple but often students send in an application and forgets to submit all the necessary documents. As a result, their application is labeled as incomplete and gets thrown out without consideration. As you continue to read, we will outline the minimum supplementary documents that most college applications will require. First, we will discuss the college essay(s).
Be prepared to respond to at least one essay prompt. This may be called a personal statement or a statement of interest. In the personal statement, you are expected to write about yourself and why you would be a good fit for the school you are applying to. Other schools may require you to submit situational essays in addition to your personal statement/statement of interest. The situational essays may vary and are often posed as an interview question. For instance, you may be asked to write about, “What excites you,” “A time you overcame a challenge,” etc. These questions are usually asked in an interview to get to know the applicant. However, since the admissions officers cannot interview everyone applying to their institution, they will read about it in your essay(s). You can imagine, these essays are important! You want to be sure to seek help when writing these essays so that your essay(s) is/are competitive. We talk a little about seeking help in our blog post, “The Parent Test | What are you doing to help your child as he/she studies for the SAT?”: https://www.sharpesessions.com/post/theparenttest.
2. ACT/SAT Test Scores
A lot of students are unsure as to whether they need to do the SAT or ACT exam for college admission. Often, the fine print says standardize test scores are not required for admissions into the university but are required to be considered for scholarships. The SAT/ACT exam serve as a comparison for students as well as an indicator that students are college ready. While all schools do not require standardized exams for admissions, we always say, it is better to have the test scores and not need them, than to need them and not have them. Of course, the higher your test score, the better your chances are for getting the scholarship you desire. As such, we strongly recommend doing research on the school(s) you are interested in attending to determine what the requirements are for admissions AND scholarships. Like the essays, we suggest that you seek help in preparing for these exams. We speak more on this in our blog post, “How to Study for the SAT | Top 3 Must Do’s When Studying for the SAT exam”: https://www.sharpesessions.com/post/studysat.
3. Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is not required for admissions for most institutions. However, to receive any form of financial aid, whether student loans, scholarships, or grants (i.e., the Pell Grant), you are required to complete your FAFSA. In addition, there are some scholarships that are based on your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and that can only be determined if you complete your FAFSA application. In other words, if your parents are not prepared to pay for your college tuition in full out of their pocket, you need to complete your FAFSA application. You may do so by visiting https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa.
4. Letters of recommendation
You will be required to submit letters of recommendation. You will need at least one letter of recommendation. It is important that you ask a teacher, mentor or supervisor who knows you well and who can write you a favorable letter of recommendation. Try to build good relationships with your teachers and supervisors so that they can speak to your strengths. The admissions officers will be using the letters of recommendation as a reference for your character from the eyes of others. Consequently, these letters will be a very important part of your application. Be sure to give the persons who will be writing your letters of recommendation enough time to write a good letter. It is a good idea to contact them well in advance before your application deadline and to remind them periodically about the deadline for your application.
You will be required to submit a copy of your high school transcript. Some schools will request an official copy of your transcript, while others may accept and unofficial copy. An official copy of your transcript is a transcript that is sent directly from your high school to the institution you are applying to. On the other hand, you may print or scan a copy of your transcript and send it in with your application. The latter is considered as an unofficial copy of your transcript. If you send in an unofficial copy prior to graduation, you will be required to submit an official copy after you graduate.
Now that you know the parts of a complete application, what do you do after submitting the application? After you have submitted a complete application, be sure to contact the admissions office of the school you’ve applied to ensure your application is complete. You may also take this time to express how excited you are to attend their institution and to ask them about internal scholarships that you may qualify for. Not all scholarships for the institutions are listed on the institution’s main website. Be sure to call and check for all scholarships that you may qualify for. It is worth noting that some colleges participate in the use of the common application/common app. This is a portal that allows you to upload all supplementary parts of the college application in one location allowing you to apply to multiple institution with the click of a button. Again, be sure to do your research to see what institution uses the common app.
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