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Like students, there is plenty of variety in the types of awards that are offered. Some are merit, athletic or major-based, while others are geared towards students with specific hobbies, artistic and musical abilities. There are even a few scholarships out there for students who don't do anything at all.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to qualify for a scholarship. Chances are, there are several scholarships for students with your specific interests and goals. With that, it is easy to qualify for a scholarship. However, it can be very difficult to win a scholarship.

All scholarship sponsors receive more qualified applications than they have awards available. The most competitive scholarships have a selection ratio of 1 in 400. The least competitive awards have a selection ratio of 1 in 10. According to the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, 7% of undergraduate students receive private sector scholarships, and the average amount received is about $2,000. That means that your raw odds of winning a scholarship are 1 in 15.

But scholarship sponsors aren't going to give you money simply for breathing. They want to give money to the most talented qualified applicant. So to maximize your chances of winning the award, you need to identify the criteria they will use to select the winner. Sometimes the sponsor has published the criteria they use. Sometimes you have to critique your application from the sponsor's perspective.

It's important to know when to apply to a scholarship and when not to, and your qualifications play a large role in determining your course of action. If you do not meet all of the qualifications, it's a wasted of your time to apply. The scholarship selection committee may not even look at your application. Spend time applying for scholarships that you absolutely qualify for so as to increase your chances of actually winning a scholarship.

You can help your odds of winning by applying for less competitive scholarships, such as local awards. For example, college juniors and seniors have a better chance of winning a scholarship, since fewer upperclassmen apply for scholarships. But don't neglect the more competitive national scholarships, since these also tend to be more lucrative.

It is important to remember that scholarship sponsors are evaluating applications, not applicants. You need to ensure that your application and the supporting materials contain all the relevant information the committee needs to evaluate your candidacy. The committee only knows what your application and your letters of recommendations tell it. Write an application that highlights the aspects of your background that match the sponsor's goals.


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