You might think there’s not much to a scholarship application. After all, it’s only one or two pages long. How much of a difference could it make? The truth is: A lot.

Scholarship judges use applications to separate the students with promise from the students who will receive a polite letter informing them that they are not the winners. Scholarship applications offer a quick snapshot of what you have to offer.

We recommend that you spend time on your applications, crafting them to fit the award you want to win. To help, we’ve developed a list of the Top 10 Scholarship Application Do’s.

1. Understand the scholarship’s mission. To get the dough, you have to know why they’re giving it out. In other words, read the description of the award to see why the organization is sponsoring it. A photography club might sponsor a scholarship for promising young photographers to promote its craft or to build awareness in the public. Appreciating the purpose of the award will help you create and application that complements it.

2. Remember who your audience is. Think about who the judges are likely to be. You need to address animal rights activists and retired dentists differently.

3. Show how you fit with the scholarship’s mission. You’re not going to win unless you have what the selection committee wants.

4. Be proud of your accomplishments. Don’t be afraid to brag.

5. Focus on leadership and contributions. Make your contributions known.

6. Make your application stand out. Set yours apart with unique accomplishments.

7. Practice to make sure everything fits. Use your spare copies of the application for practice.

8. Get editors. They’ll help you create the best, error-free applications you can.

9. Include a resume. Whether they ask for it or not, make sure you include a tailored scholarship resume.

10. Make copies of your finished applications for reference. Save them for next year when you do this all over again.

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