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Why Start Over on Each Scholarship Application?

January 26, 2010

by Derrius Quarles

Humans give off carbon dioxide for plants to use and plants give off oxygen for humans to survive.  Water is constantly converted into a gas through heat where it then rises and cools to fall as rain, snow, etc. These processes have occurred for thousands of years and they are also some of the most efficient processes known to man. Why are these natural processes so efficient? It is because they use a process known as recycling. Recycling is a process observed in many natural systems, and it may be the most important concept for you to understand when completing the scholarship process. You have written your personal statements (essays), gotten your recommendations, created your resume, and made a scholarship list. However, if you do not learn how to recycle these items, you will soon find that it is difficult and vey time-consuming to apply for the 15 or more scholarships on your list. If you learn how to take a paragraph from your college application essay and insert it there, take a paragraph from your past scholarship essay on adversity and insert it here, you will soon have an entirely new essay that you can use for a different scholarship.

Recycling application sections sounds like a fairly simple idea, right? Not necessarily. Recycling when doing scholarship applications is a great idea, but it’s not exactly simple. It can be an effective tool if used properly. If used incorrectly, however, it can have disastrous effects and can be a quick way to lose potential financial aid. “So, how do I recycle effectively?” you may ask. The answer is that you have to ensure that while recycling application sections such as a personal statement (essay) or recommendation that you tailor the personal statement or recommendation to each specific application. If you are applying to a scholarship that awards money based on academic achievement, it is not the best idea to recycle and use a recommendation previously written by a community service organizer because they cannot speak first hand about your abilities in the classroom the way a teacher can. You also may want to go through your essays and ask your recommenders to make the small or large changes in order to tailor your applications. If your essay states that “I feel I deserve the Dell Scholarship because…” yet you are applying to the Wal-Mart scholarship, you probably just lost that scholarship. An application package is somewhat like a suit, it needs to tailored in order to look its best; although it may look okay without tailoring, it will look great with it.

Here are some quick rules for recycling sections of your scholarship application:

  1. Be sure that each section of your scholarship applications is tailored for the specific type of scholarship you are applying for- If it’s a community service type of scholarship. Your recommendations and essay should talk about your experiences with community service etc.
  2. You can recycle an entire essay and use it over if it applies to the question being asked- If you wrote an essay in the past about your love for science and are applying to a scholarship related to science, you can probably use that entire essay over and save valuable time.
  3. Use different parts of past personal statements or essays to create entirely new essays- A few paragraphs from old essays with a few new sentences added to them is an entirely new essay.
  4. Get copies of your recommendations from your recommenders- Make sure each copy has their signature on them and you can use them in the future
  5. Always have copies of your resume, standardized test scores (ACT, SAT), and FAFSA Student Aid Report (SAR)- You will definitely need these items the majority of the time when applying to scholarships and having copies ready saves time.

Using and sticking to these rules will be an easy way to save time, reduce stress, and finish scholarship applications well before the deadline.  Remember, if used properly, recycling is not only good for the environment; it’s good for the scholarship application process as well.<,/p>

Derrius L Quarles is a 19-year-old freshman at Morehouse College. He hopes to go to medical school after he graduates with a degree in psychology and biology and a minor in public health, and to one day work on the public health policies of his hometown, Chicago, and beyond. To help him achieve those academic and career ambitions, Derrius has won more than $1.1 million in scholarships, including a full scholarship to attend Morehouse, since graduating from Chicago’s Kenwood Academy High School with a 4.2 GPA. Derrius was awarded a Gates Millennium scholarship and won a number of other highly competitive awards, many of which he found while searching for scholarships at Scholarships.com. He is the first in his family to attend college, and spent his childhood in the foster care system before becoming the “Million Dollar Scholar.” This is the fifth in a series of posts Derrius is writing for Scholarships.com on how he was able to fund his education, along with advice about the scholarship application process.


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