Monday, April 30, 2012

Fully Funded: Tips on College Scholarships

Note in advance, this is all completely my opinion on what won me 2 fully funded degrees, one that will be completed this Saturday, and another that will begin in the fall.

I will try to keep this a little shorter and more succinct than some of my previous, and get down to the heart of the matter!

What I Think Were Important Components to Winning Full Rides:
  1. Being a bookworm- my mom had me read to her in elementary while she cooked dinner.  Later she bought me all sorts of books from every genre and author (even Stephen King) starting in my middle school years.  When you read from a wide range of authors and genres, you come in contact with a lot of words you may not otherwise.  Even if you don't look them up directly, it is amazing what context clues will do for you. 
  2. Being an athlete- sports taught me to work for a jerk.  Sports taught me to keep cool, even with a coach in my face yelling about what I did wrong.  And most importantly, it taught me to stick with things.  My mom is a firm believer in finishing what you started, and when the season got hard you better believe you were going to tough it out.  Even if sports aren't your thing, I think it is incredibly important to find something you are dedicated to.
  3. Being comfortable in a room of adults- when you walk into a college interview, you are not being judged by your peers.  You have to be able to converse with adults, professors, decision makers, and donors.  My mom often took us to various places or had parties where we would be in a room full of adults.  We were not sent to our rooms, but always encouraged to be a part of things.  When you are comfortable talking to your mom's friends, your friend's parents, and your teachers throughout school, you are able to channel that in an interview.
  4. Being Unique- you don't always get full ride scholarships by acting like a bleach blonde valley girl who says like every other word.  I am not saying that looks play in to stuff in interviews necessarily, but you need to have something unique that you bring to the table.  In my undergraduate case, I was a part of interesting clubs (Youth Philanthropy Council, for instance) that really registered with my interviewers.  I was never the president of student council or class president, and they were perfectly fine with that.
  5. Being Confident- hands down, this is one of the most important things, and it is really interlinked with what I have mentioned before.  When you admit to yourself that you are talented, skilled, and capable, you give yourself the ability to walk into a room like you own it.  I know for a fact that I test well, that I am smart, and that I can get alond easy with adults.  So every time I go in for an interview, I am prepared.
  6. Being Prepared-  They are going to ask you the tough questions.  For instance, in my undergrad interview I was asked what the toughest obstacle I had to overcome was.  I actually paused over this one for a moment, grasping for an answer, and finally settled on not really having a dad around growing up.  And you know what, I was so surprised with how much truth was in it that I cried.  Right there, in the interview.  Not like bawling but I definitely teared up.  And you know what else? They loved my honesty and my emotion over it.  They don't mind knowing they are awarding that much money to a real human and not some perfect robot.  Whether it is scholarships or job interviews you had better be able to answer what a big obstacle is or your biggest weakness, and you better have a realistic and honest answer.
  7. Being Skilled- for my graduate degree, I brought to the table being awesome at GIS.  This is something that many of their graduates were not familiar with, and is something that many of their projects and professors are looking for.  Know software, know programs, if you are going in to anything technical look in to programming languages or website writing, know useful tools.
  8. Being Multi-faceted- Whatever you do, don't be a one trick pony.  I think it is important to have hobbies, to volunteer, play sports or join clubs...whatever it is, don't JUST be all brains.  To get the best results, you want to be able to perform.
  9. Being a mystery- Alright that was difficult to come up with something that started with being, but what I am getting at is not showing all of your cards.  For instance, I walked on to the campus I wanted to attend grad school and knew I had to be there that instant.  However, when asked how I was feeling about the campus so far, I made sure to not only tell them that I was very interested, but also that I had other colleges I was going to visit later that weekend as well, and specifically named where I was going.  I think sometimes you have to make someone feel like you are a hot commodity on the market, and that if they don't act quickly someone else will.
  10. Being well-spoken- It is obvious, but you need to be able to accurately convey a message.  Be able to get to your point in detail, without repeating yourself a hundred times.  Use good English, and for the love of God don't say like every 2 seconds.  Sit up straight and pour on the poise, male or female.  You need to be composed. 
Start early, whether you are a Senior in High School or a Senior in college, because many programs make these decisions early and you have to get everything together in advance.  Again, the most important thing is to realize that you are a perfectly capable human and a program would be lucky to have you on their team.  You walk in with that mentality, and you would be amazed how much of a difference it makes as compared to walking in intimidated and defeated.  Believe that you are the best, no matter what.

There is probably no one surefire way to get someone to pay for your degree, but these tips and tricks on what I think won mine will definitely not hurt your case any.
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1 comment:

  1. I left out grades and high GPA's and test scores, those are obviously extremely important in academic based scholarships, so I focused on the other things!