When your college budget is tight, scholarships can help ease the burden and make your education more affordable. You’ll need to put your best foot forward as you compete with other students to win scholarship awards, however. By learning what attracts scholarship-givers, you can adjust your image accordingly to increase your odds of receiving funds.

Top-Notch Essays

Your scholarship essay is your chance to set yourself apart from your competition. Scholarship committees analyze essays, looking for strong organization, clear and concise writing and careful adherence to essay guidelines. Perform research and self-examination to enable you to write the essay to answer the given question or topic. Using descriptive examples and imagery indicates your strength as a scholarship candidate, according to the Owens Community College.

Interviewing Strength

Obtaining a scholarship award often involves an interview with a scholarship panel. The purpose of the interview is to explore each candidate to find students with strength, drive, character and confidence. Through the interview process, the scholarship panel seeks to learn more about each candidate by asking questions and listening to answers. The more you know about a specific scholarship history and the purpose of the scholarship, the better impression you will make on the panel, according to the University of Minnesota. The panel might ask questions with the intent on challenging your positions to see how you respond.

Academic Excellence

To compete for a scholarship, you must demonstrate academic excellence in your school performance, according to the J. Ollie Edmunds Distinguished Scholarship website. Many scholarships set achievement minimums as a requirement for consideration, including GPA and class ranking. Standardized testing scores might also be factors in scholarship consideration.

Service, Character and Leadership

Scholarship criteria also include a student’s personal characteristics and contributions to community, states a National Honor Society document, published by the Clinton Community School District. Scholarship panels examine each student’s demonstration of leadership in school, in extracurricular activities and in the community. A student who participates in community service projects, such as scouting, 4-H, individual volunteering and in church groups shows an attitude of willing service to others. Scholarship panels also look for indications of strong character, such as upholding moral principles, demonstrating reliability, obeying rules and showing respect.