Last year, I wrote a blog about how to stand out as a scholarship applicant. That advice still holds up for the most part, but as with everything else in 2020, we have to make adjustments that fit our current worldview. Let’s revisit how to be a star scholarship candidate and some ways you can apply that advice in a COVID-19 world.
Many scholarships require you to be involved in extracurricular activities, so it is still a good idea to be as involved as you safely can be. However, what happens if your previous extracurriculars have been stopped indefinitely, or you don’t feel as if you can safely participate? At that point, you may need to get creative. Look around for school-sponsored clubs, work opportunities, volunteer opportunities, etc., that might better match your current situation, and be sure to keep track of all your activities throughout your high school career.
Focus on academics
Has your school performance dipped since the beginning of the pandemic? You’re not alone, and it’s not too late to correct a (completely understandable) slump. Talk to your teachers and/or school counselor and come up with strategies to improve your grades over the next several months. If you have a 2.0 (C average) and above, you still have options when it comes to academic scholarships.
Be aware of your online presence
It’s safe to say that many of us have been online more than ever before over the last several months (what else is there to do, right?). If you haven’t done a check-up on your life online recently, now is a great time to do it. Go through your social media accounts, and Google your name to see what comes up. If you find anything that you wouldn’t want a scholarship committee to see, delete it, or make it private. However, keep in mind that ‘private’ online is hardly ever truly private.
Develop your grit
Grit is simply the ability to persevere despite setbacks (like a global pandemic) or mistakes. Although you probably won’t find a scholarship application that asks whether or not you have grit, persevering through obstacles is an important life skill that will impress a scholarship committee. Take a look at your life right now and ask yourself, how have I persevered despite all the setbacks that I have been experiencing? You probably have some answers to that question already, but you can develop your grit further by not giving up when you come up against obstacles at home or in school. In a scholarship application, you will show that you have grit by working hard at school, challenging yourself with sustained effort in extracurricular activities, and learning from your mistakes. Check out this TED Talk to learn more about grit.
Reach out to scholarship providers
If you’re worried about how the pandemic will affect your ability to be a competitive scholarship candidate, it’s important to remember that scholarship committee members are also going through the pandemic and may be willing to offer some leeway with their applications. Reach out to the scholarship provider to see if they have any flexibility with eligibility requirements this year. By presenting yourself in a positive light, you can make yourself a star scholarship candidate.