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Top 10 Tips to Directing a Scholarship-Worthy Video

October 14, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

With the popularity of YouTube and reportedly returned home Facebook, where posting a video is just a click away, video-based scholarships are becoming increasingly popular for students who have other strengths besides essay writing. Video scholarships provide students the opportunity to highlight an array of skills from directing and editing to staging and production. But remember a video scholarship will require a great deal of time and effort. Don’t assume a video essay will be like shooting fish in a barrel. You should be encouraged by the fact that the odds are in your favor when doing a video contest because so few people take the time to enter. Here are the top 10 tips we’ve compiled to help you increase your chances of winning and helpful suggestions to keep in mind before beginning production.

  1. Follow the Rules: We can’t stress enough the importance of following the rules when competing for any scholarship opportunity, but you should be aware that the guidelines for a video contest are usually very specific and somewhat technical. For instance, there may be a certain format the scholarship provider is looking for (.avi, .mpg, .ram, .swf, etc.), file size restrictions, and surely time restrictions. Before diving in, make sure you fully grasp what it is they’re asking for.
  2. Judging: Be aware of how your work will be judged prior to writing your script. Will there be a panel of judges or will the winners be determined by voting that’s open to the general public? Knowing this ahead of time will help you in creating the most appealing video for that audience.
  3. Brainstorm: Begin thinking of a short but powerful story that fits in with the theme of the contest that will really connect with the viewer. Think about your strong points. Are you somewhat of a comedian? If so, humor is a great way to appeal to the masses because people love to laugh. If you’re a great story teller, try tugging on the heart strings of your viewer with an endearing tale. No matter what path you choose, remember to keep your story compelling – you don’t want the viewer to check out halfway through your video. Once you’ve established your storyline, think about a really gripping way to start your video entry. If you can captivate your audience within the first few seconds, you’re well on your way to a winning entry.
  4. Flatter the Sponsors: Don’t take this as an opportunity to gush over the wondrousness that is the sponsor, but rather as a “tip of the hat” to their company. Think of clever ways to incorporate them in your video such as using their product as a prop or mentioning them subtly in the dialogue. Considering the video will ultimately be judged by their distinguished panel or, at most, they’ll decide who the public will vote for, this can be an excellent and easy way to earn brownie points.
  5. Finalize Your Script: A finalized script will prevent you from adlibbing or stumbling over your words when you’re in front of the camera. Practice reading your script in front of a mirror to get a feel of what the viewer will see and memorize your lines – viewers don’t want to watch the top of your head!
  6. Test for Timing: After running through your script often enough that you’re familiar with it, test how long it takes you to read through it. Will it fit within the time constraints? It would be unfortunate to be disqualified after all your hard work for something as adjustable as timing.
  7. Possible Rewrite: By now, you’ve worked out all the pauses for emphasis and drama you want to include but still find your script flawed – well, change it! Fiddle with your script to remove awkward phrases, cut down what may now seem unnecessary and incorporate suggestions from friends and family. It’s a good idea to practice in front of friends and family members to see how they respond to your video.
  8. Location, Location, Location: Depending on the contest, where you decide to film your entry is as important as the script. You shouldn’t film in your bedroom if it’s messy and there are tons of distractions going on in the background, because no matter how great your video is something like that could ruin your chances. Instead, choose a plain backdrop like a white wall or a solid-colored door, or possibly setup your equipment outdoors. However, take into account that, just as clothes all over your bedroom floor can be a distraction, traffic can be just as bad.
  9. Begin Filming: At this point, you’ve polished and perfected your script and have practiced to the point where you can say your lines in a natural and animated way. Finally it’s time to begin filming! It’s a good idea to recruit the help of a friend of family member to do the camera work for you. Consider the importance of good lighting and good audio and be sure to record many “takes” so you’ll have options when selecting a final cut to submit to the contest.
  10. Submit and Hope for the Best: Once you’ve selected the video that you think is scholarship-worthy, go back and double-check that you’ve followed all of the rules. There’s no harm in verifying that your time and formatting are what the judges are looking for. Remember that not following the rules is the quickest way to weed out entries. Next, depending on the rules, you may send in a copy or upload it for voting to begin. If voting will determine the winning entry, do your best to get your work out there; utilize Facebook and Twitter to your best ability to get your entry votes.

Scholarship video contests are increasingly popular and are offered by a variety of sources. For more scholarship opportunities, complete a free scholarship search on Scholarships.com. You’ll be matched with awards that reflect your interests and characteristics, including film and video.

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SOTW: John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest

This SOTW is Accepting Entries Through January 5th

December 8, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest is the nation's most prestigious honor for elected public servants. The Award was created in 1989 by members of President Kennedy's family to honor President John F. Kennedy and recognize and celebrate the quality of political courage that he admired most.

The Profile in Courage Essay Contest invites high school students to consider the concept of political courage by writing an essay on a U.S. official who has chosen to do what is right, rather than what is expedient. A "Profile in Courage" essay is a carefully researched recounting of a story: the story of how an elected official risked his or her career to take a stand based on moral principles.

Students are asked to write an original and creative essay of less than 1,000 words that demonstrates an understanding of political courage as described by John F. Kennedy in "Profiles in Courage." Students should use a variety of sources such as newspaper articles, books, and/or personal interviews to address this year's essay topic.

For more information on finding money for college and how to properly fund your college education, check out Scholarships.com Financial Aid section and conduct a free scholarship search today!

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Register and Win $500 from Scholarships.com

New Winner Selected Every Month!

January 19, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

Looking for a way to pay for your college education that includes free money? Well, you’re in luck! Here at Scholarships.com, we provide users with the most relevant scholarships and educational information out there.

By registering at Scholarships.com, you’ll have access to more than 2.7 million local, state and national college scholarships and grants worth $1.9 billion...and did we mention that you’ll be eligible to win $500 automatically just for registering? That’s right: Filling out a complete profile will enter you into our monthly drawing for $500. No lengthy essay or massive application packet required – it doesn't get any easier than that. Complete your profile, get entered to win $500 and start exploring additional scholarship options today!

For the complete rules, click here.

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The Young Naturalist Awards Scholarships

This SOTW is Accepting Entries Through March 1st

February 2, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

The Young Naturalist Awards Program hosted by the American Museum of Natural History, invites students in grades 7 through 12 to conduct original research in the areas of biology, earth science or astronomy. Students work independently to make observations, record data and illustrate findings before documenting their research in a written essay. The 12 finalists (two per grade) receive scholarships ranging from $500 to $2,500 and are flown to New York City to meet museum scientists, take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Museum and attend an awards ceremony.

Winners are further distinguished by having their essays published on the Museum's website. The program is conducted by the American Museum of Natural History and supported by Alcoa Foundation. Entrants must be United States or Canadian citizens or legal residents living within the United States, Canada or U.S. Territories. Submissions are reviewed by a panel of science teachers and by museum scientists.

For more information on finding money for college and how to properly fund your college education, check out Scholarships.com Financial Aid section and conduct a free scholarship search today!

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Win $10K in this Scholarship of the Week!

This SOTW is Accepting Entries Through March 31st

February 9, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

Looking for a scholarship that doesn't require an essay? Well, look no further than ScholarshipPoints for your chance to win a $10,000 scholarship. ScholarshipPoints is free to join, fun to participate in, and provides you with the opportunity to win thousands of dollars in scholarships every month. Members earn scholarship points for doing what they already do online: shopping, reading blogs, playing games, searching the web, taking surveys and more! The more you do – the more points you earn – the more chances you have at winning a scholarship. Join today and you could be their next scholarship winner!

For more information on this scholarship and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today! By creating a Scholarships.com profile, you'll be matched with funding opportunities that are unique to you. These days you don’t have to be a star athlete or valedictorian to land scholarships. Many are based on characteristics like need, community service and your intended field of study, or if you dig even deeper, you’ll find a wide array of awards based on more specific characteristics. Chances are you qualify for more scholarships than you thought you did, so conduct a free scholarship search or browse through our site to see awards you may be eligible for and start earning money toward college.

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Germans from Russia Heritage Society Youth Essay Contest

This SOTW is Accepting Entries Through March 31st

February 23, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

The Germans from Russia Heritage Society Youth Essay Contest encourages students from around the world to learn about the history and culture of the German-Russians, people who emigrated from Germany into Russia during the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, in the USA, Canada and other countries in the Western Hemisphere, these people have become known as Germans from Russia.

The GRHS Essay Contest is open to all students attending public, private, parochial or home schools and to students attending accredited universities as full-time undergraduate students. The subject of the paper must be directly related to German-Russian history heritage or culture and be the contestant’s original work. A contestant does not need to be ethnic German-Russian to enter the contest. Resubmission of previously judged work is not permitted.

For more on this scholarship and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com for a complete list of scholarships that are personalized to you!

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On the Prowl for Scholarships

Check Out This Scholarship of the Week from College Prowler

March 24, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Finding enough funding for college is hard but that task is made even more difficult when college scholarship committees require applicants to meet countless requirements, fill out stacks of forms and write lengthy essays to even be considered. Well, College Prowler isn’t most scholarship committees and it's doing things a little differently with its $2,000 No Essay Scholarship.

The folks at College Prowler know students are busy and that times are pretty tough for a lot of people right now…but that’s precisely why they’ve created an incredibly easy way to give back to those who need it. All applicants have to do is complete a brief profile, hit submit and voila, they could win $2,000 to put toward tuition, housing, meal plans, books, computers or any education-related expenses. To apply, please visit College Prowler or complete a scholarship search to find additional opportunities.

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How to Play (and Win) the Waiting Game

March 11, 2014

by Mike Sheffey

It’s that time of year: admission decision time. Those daunting, time-consuming and incredibly necessary applications that you sent off months ago have yet to result in anything concrete and you – like many high school seniors across the country – are now playing the waiting game. The process is now, for all intents and purposes, out of your control. (I found myself in this situation when I applied for college and have recently returned to the game as I wait to hear from potential employers.) Worried? Don’t sweat it. Here’s what to do while you wait:

  • Keep those grades up. This goes out to you high school seniors: There is a myth that once you’re in, you’re in for good...and it’s simply not true. You get the fat envelope because the school wants you there and thinks you will bring a good work ethic and dedication to campus. Slacking off will only prove them wrong and could cause them to rescind your acceptance. Senioritis is tough (trust me, it occurs as a senior in college as well!) but your hard work will pay off.
  • Continue applying for scholarships. Every little bit helps when funding your education so if you find an award for which you qualify, apply! Also, it’s not too late to apply for scholarships in college – there are lots of awards out there for undergraduate and even graduate students!
  • Weigh your options. Once you get in, don’t instantly say yes – do your research! Look into the college culture, the activities, the campus, the surrounding city, the class size, etc. I’m sure you’ve done the majority of this research before applying but keep at it until you are 100-percent sure the school is the place you want to live, study and socialize; if it’s not, you still have time to consider your other choices.

Mike Sheffey is a senior at Wofford College double majoring in computer science and Spanish. He loves all things music and has recently taken up photography. Mike works for an on-campus sports broadcasting company as well as the music news blog PropertyOfZack.com. He hopes to use this blogging position to inform and assist others who are seeking the right college or those currently enrolled in college by providing advice on college life, both in general and specific to Wofford.

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SOTW: DoSomething's $3,000 What Would You do to Save Money Scholarship

This SOTW is Accepting Entries Through April 3rd

March 31, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

What would you do to save a few bucks? Share DoSomething.org's Would You Rather game and you and your friends will be put in hilarious situations to save money, but also get some real money saving tips along the way.

To be eligible for the scholarship, invite just six friends to play. At the end of the game, you'll be given a few tips on how you could actually save money a bit easier and be entered to win a $3,000 prize! No minimum GPA. No essays required. For more information on the scholarship, click here.

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Register and Win $500 from Scholarships.com

New Winner Selected Every Month!

April 21, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Looking for a way to pay for your college education that includes free money? Well, you’re in luck! Here at Scholarships.com, we provide users with the most relevant scholarships and educational information out there.

By registering at Scholarships.com, you’ll have access to more than 2.7 million local, state and national college scholarships and grants worth $1.9 billion...and did we mention that you’ll be eligible to win $500 automatically just for registering? That’s right: Filling out a complete profile will enter you into our monthly drawing for $500. No lengthy essay or massive application packet required – it doesn't get any easier than that. Complete your profile, get entered to win $500 and start exploring additional scholarship options today!

For the complete rules, click here.

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