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With so many applicants, how can I compete for scholarships?

QUESTION: About scholarships, I've found many that I can apply to, but it seems like my chances of actually winning them are very slim because I'm competing with millions around the world and only a few will get the scholarship. Should I still pursue them or should I do something else? Signed, Not a Lottery Winner

Dear Not a Lottery Winner:
The truth is that there is a lot of competition for scholarships, especially the large scholarships that are open to all students in the country. This doesn’t mean that you should give up, but it does mean you need to develop a strategy when applying to scholarships. Here’s how:

1. Evaluate yourself. Identify what your strengths are and how you stand out from other students. Do you have any special talents or interests? Which are your strongest subjects? Have you shown promise in skills needed in a particular career field?

2. Find scholarships to match your strengths. Look through scholarship books and search the Internet for awards that coincide with your abilities. Try our website in your search. Be selective about the awards and only apply to those that really match your strong suits.

3. Spend time crafting your applications and showing how your strengths match the mission of the awards. We can guarantee that the students who win have spent quality time on their applications, crafting their forms and essays to demonstrate that without a doubt they fit the criteria of the awards.

4. Look locally. Find local scholarships in which the pool of applicants is smaller. Check with local businesses and civic organizations, your parents’ employers, church groups, and your school.

We don’t think you should give up. We just think you need a little focus. Now, go for it!

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Gen & Kelly Tanabe

Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.