Tips From the SR Education Group Scholarship Committee

Once a round of scholarship winners is announced, we are often asked by those who didn’t win what they can do in future applications to increase their chances of winning. While we’re unable to provide feedback about individual applications, our scholarship committee does have some advice to offer to our applicants in general.

The advice below is not intended to provide any applicant an unfair advantage, but rather to give applicants some guidance when deciding what information they should and should not include in their essays, as well as to point out some common mistakes that we’ve noticed multiple applicants make.

1. State Your Case.

"State any special personal or family circumstances affecting your need for financial assistance." This is a question that you will find on every SR Education Group scholarship application. We ask about this in order to assess applicants’ financial and personal situations and to learn how these circumstances affect their ability to afford a college education. As all of SR Education Group’s scholarships are needs-based, this question is of great importance to the scholarship committee.

The best advice our committee has for our scholarship applicants is this: Don’t be shy when answering this question. Be clear and forthcoming about why you are seeking aid for school, even if your situation is difficult to talk about. Remember that you can always request that the information you provide in your scholarship application be kept confidential.

If you made mistakes in the past that have led to your current financial need, convey how you have learned from them. If you have overcome a great obstacle in your life, recently lost financial support, made significant sacrifices in order to afford school, or you’ve found yourself ineligible for other aid or assistance, share this information with the scholarship committee.

2. Provide Numbers.

Knowing what to include and what to refrain from including in your scholarship application can be tough, especially when it comes to clearly stating your financial need. So, let us help you out. If you have numbers, use them! Provide the specifics about your situation.

If you’re struggling to make your paycheck cover your tuition and living expenses, or you’re worried about the amount of student debt you have taken on, tell us exactly how much your school costs and how far behind you are falling. Providing the numbers to back up your claims will strengthen your case and will help the committee determine your financial need.

3. Show Us Your Passion.

When we ask why you chose your school or degree on the scholarship application, what we are really asking is why this degree/school was the right choice for YOU. We are not looking for a detailed description of your degree or career choices – be confident that we know what the job description for a nurse or bioengineer is. What we really want to know about is YOU. If you have prior life experience that has led you to choose your major or career, we want to know what that is! We want to know that you are excited about where your education is taking you, and we want to share in your excitement.

A successful applicant will remind us that behind the words lies a real person with real needs and aspirations. Applicants should infuse their personality into their essays and go beyond what the questions ask to give us a real sense of who they are and what they would like to become.

4. Describe Your Plan.

Do you dream of being a rocket scientist? Or a chef at a 5-star restaurant? Do you dream of providing medical care to underprivileged youth? Whatever your dreams are, make sure that you clearly express how you plan to make them a reality. When we ask about your five-year plan, convey to us that you understand that your degree is just one step toward your dream. When awarding scholarships, the scholarship committee weighs how likely your degree is to help get you out of the financial hardships you are currently experiencing and into a rewarding career. We do not make this judgment based on the merit of your degree, but rather how the degree you chose factors into your life plans.

We want to know that once you’ve completed your education, you’ll be able to apply this education to your career and life goals. So, please share your dreams with us, but also be explicit about the practical steps you’re taking now and planning to take in the future to make your dreams a reality.

5. Write With Clarity.

You may be a great applicant, but if you’re unable to clearly state what makes you worthy of a scholarship, it’s unlikely that the committee will see you as such. Be clear about why you need the money. Be clear about why awarding you this money will benefit you, your family, or others.

Don’t try to use words that you would only find in an SAT vocabulary book; we don’t expect you to be Shakespeare! Write like you are having a conversation with us, and go for clarity over artistic flair. Your essay should concisely lay out the reasons why you need and would benefit from this scholarship. We don’t need you to be fancy … just understandable.

6. Check Your Work.

Proofread your application, and pay attention to your word count! Proofread your application, and pay attention to your word count! We cannot stress this enough! While we try not to judge grammar and spelling mistakes too harshly, having multiple mistakes throughout your application makes the application harder for the committee to read and comprehend. You want to make sure that everything you are providing to the committee is as easy to understand as possible – and that includes correct grammar and spelling. So, take the time to have a family member, friend, or coworker look over your application before you send it off.

Additionally, we have included the suggested word count for a reason. If your answers are under 300 words, it’s unlikely that you have provided us with enough information about your situation to clearly convey why you should be awarded this scholarship. And, as the committee is tasked with reading numerous applications, it just isn’t possible for us to read more than 500 words per answer. In fact, our system will not allow you to enter more than 500 words into each text box. So, if you have copied and pasted your answer from a Word document, scroll down to the bottom of the text box to confirm that your ENTIRE answer is there.