Dani’s First Declassified Guide: Scholarship Success and Resources

College in the United States is expensive. And while I did receive an annual merit scholarship throughout my five years, there were still additional expenses that I needed to pay out of pocket each year towards tuition, textbooks and other expenses.

As someone who was awarded over $25,000 in scholarships throughout college, I have learned a great deal about scholarship applications. Below are four tips from my personal experience that I hope can help you!

1. Compile list of applicable scholarships.

There are so many scholarships out there, one of the best tips I can give is cast a wide net to see what scholarships that are applicable to you. Some are based on major, specialty interest within your major, demographics, geographical location currently for school or where you permanent residence is. At the end of this post, I have included links to scholarships that I have applied to as well as further resources. Also for professional societies like SWE and ASCE, search locally, regionally, and society-wide as you being awarded locally does not mean that you can not apply on the Society level.

2. Prioritize securing letters of recommendation.

There are many parts to some scholarship applications, but one of the most crucial is the letter of recommendation typically by a professional or faculty member. If they require a letter of recommendation, I recommend prioritizing this first as to give your letter writer ample time to write this letter and submit! As someone who has written many letters of recommendations, I am always happy to help and honored when I am asked! A good practice is to give at least 3 weeks of a heads up before it is due to respect the time of whoever you are asking. We are busy but want to help you succeed!

To help you with this ask in the future, I have included a draft email template below:

SUBJECT: YOUR NAME Letter of Recommendation Request deadline DATE

Hello NAME, 
I hope you had a wonderful weekend! I would like to apply for SCHOLARSHIP NAME which requires a letter of recommendation and WHY YOU ARE APPLYING. As a past president of Drexel SWE who is also someone I constantly look up to (OR WHY THIS SPECIFIC PERSON) , I would like to know if you could write this letter of recommendation for me.
For reference, I have also attached my current resume, more information about this scholarship, and how to submit the letter of recommendation. This letter is due DATE AND TIME. Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns. 

Thank you, Danielle

Also, don’t forget to send the person who took the time to write you a letter of recommendation a thank you email / note after you receive the scholarship!

2016 WTS Awards Dinner where I was awarded the Suzanne Axworthy Undergraduate Scholarship

3. Keep past scholarship essays in one place.

This tip boils down to work smart, not hard – I kept mine in a Google drive folder throughout college, but any central place is good as scholarship essays tend to ask similar questions. I have been able to reuse paragraphs of past scholarship essays which helped me to save time.

Some questions I have seen:

  • What would you like to be doing five or ten years after graduation and how do you think this will help both the profession and humanity in general?
  • Define career goals and educational objectives pertaining to the use of technology in the transportation industry.

Both of these questions are generally asking about my goals for my future in my field so I was able to use most of the same essay for both scholarship applications. Also as someone who still struggles with talking about my accomplishments, this folder can also be used to hype yourself up after a long day!

4. Don’t be afraid to apply again!

My junior year I applied for a local scholarship that was open to all engineering students in the area…and was not awarded it. The following year, I updated the application and resubmitted my senior year, and was awarded the scholarship. If you don’t receive an award one year, don’t let that keep you from applying again the following year!

Good luck on your scholarship search and application process!

Feel free to reach out to me at DaniTheEngineer.blog@gmail.com with any other resources that I should add to the lists above or any link no longer is in use.

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