mistakes to avoid when applying for college scholarships

Posted : August 25, 2014
Last Updated : May 7, 2020

mistakes to avoid when applying for college scholarships

To err is human nature but when it comes to getting money for college via scholarships, mistakes can cost you much needed financial help. You can increase your chances of obtaining a scholarship award by avoiding these common mistakes when applying for college scholarships.

Applying for only a couple of scholarships.

The more scholarships for which you apply, the greater your chances are of receiving one. Don’t just apply for one or two scholarships and call it a day. Instead, review a variety of scholarships and apply to all of the ones in which you are eligible.

Avoiding the research.

You won't be successful in receiving a scholarship if you don't take the time to research possible scholarship opportunities. From performing online searches to investigating unique contests and drawings, there are a variety of ways to find scholarships. You just have to put forth the time and effort.

Disregarding the instructions.

Don't miss out on a scholarship just because you didn't read and follow the instructions. If the instructions ask for two recommendations and you only submit one, then you greatly decrease your chance of winning the scholarship. Likewise, if the instructions say that only online applications will be accepted and you send in a paper version, then your application will probably not be considered. Scholarship instructions are written for a reason, so follow them precisely.

Missing deadlines.

Missing application deadlines is probably the most common mistake students make when applying for scholarships. Between application deadlines for colleges, financial aid, and scholarships, you have a multitude of dates to remember, which is why you need to plan ahead. Make a spreadsheet, use a planner, and set reminders so you don't miss any priority deadlines.


If you put off working on a scholarship application until the last minute, your application is likely to be filled with various mistakes because you had to rush through it. Avoid late-night cram sessions and give yourself plenty of time to complete each scholarship application thoroughly.

Skipping the proofreading process.

Even if you take your time filling out the application and writing an essay, there may still be errors. So before you submit any scholarship application, take the time to proofread the entire application or ask a family member, friend, or mentor to proofread for you. Check for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, omitted information, etc.

Submitting an illegible application.

While most scholarships nowadays have online applications, there are still some that require paper applications. If you are submitting a paper application, make sure the writing is legible by either typing in the information or using neat handwriting. If your application is sloppy and illegible, the scholarship reviewer or committee will just move on to the next one.

Using an unprofessional email address.

While a cute or risqué email address can seem clever among your group of friends, it can send the wrong message to a scholarship committee. When applying for scholarships, avoid email addresses that use nicknames or profanity and email addresses that are offensive or have sexual connotations. Instead, create a professional email address to use for scholarship applications (and college and employment applications). Keep it simple and straightforward by using variations of your first, middle, and last name.

Writing a subpar essay.

If a scholarship has an essay requirement, then it is one of the most important parts of the application. A scholarship essay should be personal, intriguing, and well written. It should have a focus and be specific. It should make you stand out from other applicants. Use these tips for writing an exceptional scholarship essay.

For more information regarding college scholarships, check out the articles in the Scholarships & Grants section of this website.

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mistakes to avoid when applying for college scholarships

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