Thursday, July 29, 2010

Scholarship Posted, Deadline is Next Week - Would You Be Ready??

If I posted a link to a great scholarship opportunity (in the Facebook Page, or Twitter) with a deadline of ‘next week’ – would you be able to apply? Here’s what you need to have organized and available in order to be ready to apply for scholarships, grants, internships, or job opportunities:

Resume. Some scholarship applications will ask for your resume or CV. If you worked previously, list your experiences, but if you don’t have work experience – don’t worry. Use your resume/CV to point out any awards and honors you’ve received, community service you’ve been involved with, and activities you’ve participated in. List all relevant activities and honors, but be selective. If you have more activities than can fit in the space provided do not include the ones that are not significant.

Read the criteria or eligibility for selection carefully to understand what the reviewers of the scholarship are looking for. For example, if the scholarship looks for applicants who can show leadership experience, or an outstanding extracurricular record, include your volunteer and community service activities, emphasizing those in which you took a leadership role. Most importantly, your activities should represent your varied talents and passions outside the class room. The reviewers are trying to get a sense of who you are and what you believe in. Make sure your activities reflect that.

Make your resume and application stand out from the crowd! If you need help developing a professional resume, find examples on the Web, or better – contact your advisor, or the career services department of your school or university. If you don’t have extracurricular activities or volunteer work to list – now is the time to get involved. (Who knows – the life you change doing volunteer work may be your own!)

Letters of recommendation, or professional references. Good references are essential to creating a winning scholarship application. Prepare a document that lists at least three professional references. These references should include one or two professors who know you, preferably both in and outside of the classroom. Choose professors that have had you in upper level courses, and that know your academic goals. You might also ask a coach or academic advisor, the employer that you worked for, or the manager you worked under. Choose people who are relevant to the sponsor's goals. For example, ask a science teacher to write a letter of recommendation for a science scholarship, not your Art teacher. (Never ask a family member to provide a recommendation or letter of reference.) In each case, you want these people to speak highly of you – to speak to others about your abilities and worthiness for the scholarship.

Make sure you speak to your recommenders, making sure they want to speak on your behalf. Give your recommender a written description of the scholarship and a copy of your personal statement or essay that you write for the scholarship application. It’s a good idea to keep them informed about what you are doing academically, personally, and professionally – sending them an updated resume and transcript will help them with the process of writing the letter, or speaking for you during an interview. You should also give them appropriately addressed envelopes with postage, if necessary.

Please, be sure to also give your recommenders plenty of time to write the letter! Ask him or her at least four weeks in advance to write the letter. Gently remind them ten days before the deadline, asking them whether they have sent in the recommendation or need more information from you. Do not ask to see a copy of the letter, even if they offer to give you a copy. If the recommender provides you with a copy of the letter, the selection committee may suspect that the letter isn't as candid as it might have been otherwise. Send the writer a thank you note after the letter has been mailed. Let them know how much you appreciate what they are doing for you; you will likely ask them to write additional letters for you. Once they've written one letter on your behalf, the second letter is much easier. If you send them a thank you, it will give them a good impression and make them more willing to spend time writing you additional letters in the future.

Transcripts. You should have copies of your transcripts available in case you need to send an unofficial copy along with the application. This is also good to have when filling out the application in case you need detailed information about courses and grades, and to send to the people writing letters of recommendation for you. If the application requires official transcripts from all the schools you have attended, request this information as soon as possible. You can do this by e-mail, fax, or call in your requests, but mail a letter as a backup. Some schools charge a nominal fee for official transcripts. After a few weeks have passed, call the schools to make sure that the transcripts have been sent to the proper address.

Scores of internationally valid exams (GRE for aptitude and TOEFL/IELTS for English). This may not be necessary, but just in case, you should have the proper documentation, or copies of appropriate exam scores.

Picture. Have multiple copies of a picture of yourself. A school picture or passport picture is perfect. Anything smaller than a wallet size head shot, will do.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Scholarship Spotlight: Scholarships at Georgia College and State University in US

Amount: International Student Scholarships and Assistantships at Georgia College and State University - up to $19,000 per academic year for undergraduates

Deadline: Application for Spring 2011 semester: September 1st, 2010

Description: Georgia College & State University is proud to announce International Student Scholarships for the Spring 2011 semester. Each of these awards is approximately $19,000/year at the undergraduate level. The university offers challenging undergraduate and graduate programs in the Schools of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Business, Education and Health Sciences!

To find out more about the academic opportunities available at Georgia College & State University, visit the degree programs website:

International Student Scholarships
International Graduate Assistantships (can significantly reduce the cost of tuition)

Jason Wynn
International Admissions Counselor
International Education Center
Georgia College & State University
Phone: (+1) 478-445-4789
Fax: (+1) 478-445-2623

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Finding Scholarships: Get Organized!

Get organized.
If you start off organized, you are less likely to miss important application deadlines or forget to ask for a letter of recommendation. Put each application's materials in a separate file folder – whether it’s a physical folder or a computer folder, or both. Create a checklist listing all the required materials, as well as the following:
  • Scholarship name and description; phone number if available
  • Date application must be received by scholarship committee
  • Date you requested the application
  • Date you received the application
  • Date application and supporting materials were mailed
  • Date you called the Scholarship Agency to verify they received your application package

Keep a copy of your entire application materials, so you can resend it in case it is lost in the mail. Keep a master checklist of all the scholarships to which you are applying, so you can check off the completion of each application. You will also find it helpful to refer to old applications when applying for other scholarships!

Do not miss deadlines. If you miss a deadline, your application is disqualified, regardless of your excuse. Scholarship sponsors never provide extensions. So when you receive the application materials, take note of the deadline and whether it is a postmark or receipt deadline. If the deadline is based on the date your application is received by the sponsor, be sure to mail the application at least one week before the deadline date. If possible, set your own personal deadline at least two weeks prior to that date, so that your application materials are ready well in advance of the official deadline. You might consider including a self-addressed stamped postcard with your application so the sponsor can drop it in the mail to let you know that your application has been received and whether you are missing any supporting materials. You could also send the application by certified mail, return receipt requested.

Organize the application materials. If an application consists of several loose pages, label each page with your name, and possibly also a purpose and page number. This will help prevent parts of your application from getting lost or out of order. If not specified, send your application materials in a large manila envelope, to prevent unnecessary folding of your papers. Make sure you have sufficient postage.

Application Proficiency. Proofread the entire application several times before submitting. After you have carefully edited and revised your application, ask someone you trust to read it again. A second reader could be a parent, teacher, or advisor. Remember: typos cost you points and could cost you the scholarship. Applications with blanks or unanswered questions are viewed as incomplete and are subject to immediate disqualification. Do not handwrite your application. You want to create a professional impression. With few exceptions, all scholarship applications must be typed. All college work is typed unless you are in a math lab; basic computer literacy is considered the norm and not the exception. Read all application instructions carefully and do exactly what the application asks you to do. Do not attach unsolicited documents to your application. The application will ask you to provide specific supporting documents, but if you include anything they do not require it will go against you. Also pay careful attention to word limits. If, for example, the instructions for an essay specify a word limit of 450-600 words, then stay within that limit. Exceeding the word limit is viewed as demonstrating an inability to follow instructions.

A readable, clean, complete, well-written application is impressive. Unreadable, smeary, incomplete, or poorly written applications are eliminated.

Finally, Before mailing your application, double-check:
Have you neatly organized and included all required documents?
Do all official documents contain dates and signatures?
Have you provided correctly-spelled names and mailing addresses?
Have you corrected all spelling and typing errors?
Have you filled in all required fields in the application?

Remember - believe in yourself and in your chances to win scholarships. Hard work and time spent on the scholarship process will pay off eventually. Keep your chin up and think about how great the reward will be if you can win even one of the scholarships you're trying for!

Next post: Resumes, References, and Transcripts!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Get Organized, Get Ready - Find the Funding You Need!

Now is the time to get ready for finding, applying for, and winning scholarships! This process can be time consuming and takes dedication and motivation. But being organized and prepared will help you. In the next set of posts, you will find tips and advice that will also help you. The following information was taken from Scholarship Experts, and is generic in nature; it is intended to get you motivated and ready for the detailed information to come!

Be proactive
No one is going to track you down to give you a scholarship; you must do the legwork yourself. So when you find awards with eligibility criteria that you can meet, contact the provider and request a scholarship application packet. Whether you have to request the application via email, phone or by sending in a self-addressed stamped envelope, DO IT. There's just no other way to get the ball rolling than to take the initiative and be assertive in requesting information.

Be timely
Most scholarship providers set deadlines, and you must adhere to them. Make sure you submit all required all materials well before the deadline. If the scholarship deadline is approaching and you have not yet received the application packet that you requested earlier, follow up with the provider and request the application packet again. You do not want to miss a deadline, as few scholarship providers will consider late applications.

Be organized
Good organizational skills can pay off: literally!
  • Keep your scholarship applications ordered by deadline date.

  • Give yourself plenty of time to complete and send them in well before the due date.

  • Keep letters of recommendation and transcripts on hand so you don't have to obtain new ones every time they are required for an application.

  • Make copies of your completed scholarship applications before sending them in, and file them in folders labeled with the deadline date and the mailing address and phone number of the scholarship provider.

  • Call before the deadline to see if your application was received in good order. If it got lost in the mail (glitches happen), you still have an extra copy you can send in.

Be persistent
The scholarship search process doesn't happen overnight. You must be diligent about looking for new scholarships to apply for. Plan to spend several hours each month reviewing the programs with deadlines approaching, preparing application packets, and getting your applications in the mail on time. Then the cycle should begin again:
  • Find scholarships that you're eligible for

  • Obtain application information

  • Apply in an organized, timely manner.

Be positive
Finally, believe in yourself and in your chances to win scholarships. Hard work and time spent on the scholarship process will pay off eventually. Keep your chin up and think about how great the reward will be if you can win even one of the scholarships you're trying for! After all, your education depends on it!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Social Networks – How They Can Impact Your Scholarship, Internship, or Job Opportunities.

The Good News.

Technology has had a huge effect on recruitment - for candidates, recruitment professionals and employers alike. What this means for organizations is that finding talent through the internet is becoming progressively more important. Not only are employers and their agencies increasingly adopting online-only recruitment policies, but more and more are using social networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin to hunt for candidates. According to a study by, one of the largest online job sites in the US, nearly one in two hiring managers uses social media to recruit or screen candidates for jobs today.

Social media has entered the mainstream as a recruitment strategy; and many highly-recognized firms are connecting with applicants through their own profiles or pages on these sites. As an example, check out Ernst & Young Careers page in Facebook. They have a team dedicated to recruiting on Facebook, where applicants can ask questions, find information regarding contests, jobs, internships, links to related information, and discussion boards; and there are many, many more companies creating profiles every day.

Online networks can become a lifeline if you are looking for an internship or job. US unemployment hit a new 14-year high last October and according to online job advertising firm Monster, recruitment activity on the Web plunged to its lowest level in nearly three years. The economic crisis hitting firms across the globe has created a spike in usage of professional networks such as LinkedIn, the top professional Web network. Professional networking should be a top priority during unstable economic times.

While making it well worth your time and effort to have a presence online, it’s really only effective if you take the time to develop your profile. Virtually anything in a profile shows up on a search, so you should list your educational background, awards, current and previous employment, current responsibilities, user groups, professional associations you belong to, expertise, and other information companies might seek. Tap into social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to create or expand positive online content about you.

The Bad News.

What you put on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or other social networks (or what your friends put there) could have a negative impact on your scholarship. According to Social Media and College Admissions, 25% of admissions offices are searching social networking sites and using search engines (Google and Yahoo) to conduct background checks on potential students before awarding scholarships. Facebook and MySpace are the most commonly searched sites. The presence of admissions offices on social networking sites are expected to increase.

Recent surveys find that a growing number of job searches are being derailed by "digital dirt." The Internet is rampant with inaccuracies, posturing, gossip, material presented out of context, as well as inappropriate information and pictures. All of which can wreak havoc on someone's digital footprint. Social networking Web sites can be filled with unintended or embarrassing anecdotes, and general Web searches sometimes reveal inconsistencies or resume inflation. This can, and has, eliminated candidates for internships and jobs.

There are a number of methods being used to collect information and create a virtual profile of you, such as searching and utilizing government records, free people searches, search engines, social network search engines, and paid searches. A number of companies (and college admissions offices) are also using facial recognition software to identify pictures that are not tagged. Think you’re safe by setting your profile to private? Or using an alias? Your personal information is still accessible to parents, professors, police, or employers. Even if your profile is private, there's little to stop your online contacts from copying and sharing your information or pictures with others, and tagging them. Removing possible incriminating pictures or information when it’s time to look for that scholarship or job may be more difficult than you think – information that you have “deleted” can still be found on numerous servers. So it's a good rule of thumb to avoid posting pictures or confessions that would humiliate you or a friend if they reached the wider world, because they very well could.

What you should do.

My suggestion – Google yourself (use other search engines as well); do an image search; log in to your social network and do a search. Do this regularly. (For more detailed information on searches, and tips for managing your digital footprint see What the Web knows about you.)

Create a profile on a professional network, and link to professors, colleagues, and friends. Create or expand positive, professional (neutral) online content on your social network sites, and encourage others to create positive and neutral information about you. Search for companies with an online presence in Facebook and “like” them, follow them in Twitter, and join appropriate groups in LinkedIn. Make yourself highly visible, with a positive and professional image. And finally, make sure your social networking profiles are complete and rich with search-engine friendly keywords. Having search-engine friendly keywords that describe your skills and experience helps employers find you before they've posted a job ad. A good social online profile is better than no profile!