3 Tips to Avoid STEM Scholarship Scams
It’s no secret that scholarships are a great way to find free money for college. While it’s now easier than ever to search for scholarship opportunities online, easier navigation on the internet also makes it easier for online scammers.
Unfortunately, many families have fallen victim to scholarship scammers who are stealing millions of dollars from families every year. Your goal is to get money for college, and it shouldn’t cost you anything to apply for scholarships.
The good news is that there are red flags to look out for to avoid becoming the victim of a scholarship scam. A general rule of thumb – if it sounds too good to be true, it is. Learn the signs to protect yourself against being defrauded and find scholarships that are right for you. Here are 3 tips to avoid scholarship scams:
- Be cautious of fees: Applying for scholarships should not cost money. Be cautions of scholarships with application fees and never pay to get scholarship information. Scholarship databases are free and readily available online. Be on the lookout for phrases like “Guaranteed or your money back.” Scholarship websites can’t guarantee that you will win a scholarship because they’re not deciding on the winner. Legitimate scholarships won’t require an upfront fee when you submit the application.
- Protect your data: Never reveal financial information such as your social security number, credit card numbers, checking information or bank account numbers to apply for scholarships. Scholarship scammers could use this information to commit identity theft.
- Get a second opinion: If you’re still unsure, talk with trusted organizations about which websites they recommend. School counselors, librarians, financial aid offices, and local community organizations have knowledge and tools to guide you in the right direction.
Below is some advice to help you win scholarships. However, winning them takes time, dedication and hard work.
Customize each essay
Scholarship judges can tell if you’ve adapted a previously written essay to meet their criteria. I customized each application and use the beginning of my essay to showcase my unique skills. Remember, the time you are spending to tailor your essay can be rewarded with a college debt free future. Also, details are very important. Your essay might be very appealing but grammar mistakes and spelling errors can stand between you and a $100,000 award as careless mistakes can been seen as lack of dedication.
A scholarship essay is the most essential part of your application. This essay can either help you win or lose the opportunity to get a scholarship.
When writing essays for school, the most basic structure is: intro, body, conclusion. The same applies to a personal scholarship essay. A general outline for a scholarship essay should look like this:
- Introduction: Open the essay grabbing the reader’s attention and why you deserve a scholarship.
- 1-3 Body paragraphs: Tell your story such as what has been a significant challenge in your life and how did you overcome this. . Be sure to highlight things scholarship committees are looking for, like leadership skills, mentorship and community activities.
- Conclusion: Wrap up your essay by restating your interest in the scholarship and showing how the story you’ve shared demonstrates your readiness for college.
- A hook that grabs the reader’s attention
- Thesis statement (why do you deserve a scholarship?)
- What has been a significant challenge in your life?
- How did you overcome this?
- What is/are your educational and career goal(s)?
- What is/are your current educational goal(s)?
- Why did you choose this particular college or university?
- Why did you choose this field of study?
- How will a scholarship help you achieve your educational goal(s)?
- What is/are your long-term career goal(s)?
- What will you do with your degree?
- How will the scholarship help you in achieving your long-term career goal(s)?
- Real-life examples that support main arguments
- Brief summary of your key points
- Restate the thesis (how the scholarship will help you reach your goals.
Submit scholarship applications early
Meet the deadlines and don’t wait until the due date. I followed the organizations’ application criteria. If the organization asks you to mail the application, don’t try to email it and if there is a maximum word count limit, don’t go over it. Most scholarship providers receive more qualified applications than available funds, so reduce your chances of being disqualified because you didn’t follow their requirements.
Treat the application process as a part-time job
The more applications you submit, the greater your chances are of winning scholarships. I treated the application process as a part-time job dedicating 15-25 hours per week. I figured if I spent two hours applying for a scholarship and won $1000, that was like making $500 per hour; an AMAZING part-time job!
It was difficult at first, because I was putting in hours and hours in the application process before winning scholarships but it got easier as time went on. I wrestled with self-doubt. But don’t let the competition discourage you. IOScholarships help narrow your search. Results are generated based on your ethnic background and interests. Don’t wait, apply today!
Find the Best Scholarships for You
These might be those based on your major and ethnicity. If you don’t have a STEM major set yet, you might concentrate on your extracurricular activities or community service. Getting organized helps you stay on track and gives you time to complete all the applications available.
Start by applying for your favorite scholarships and organize them with IOScholarships organizer. Getting organized helps you stay on track and gives you time to complete all the applications available.
Learn about the scholarship organization
Most of IOScholarships are awarded by a private organization or corporation. Take time to research the institution mission and vision so you learn what they might be looking for in a scholarship applicant.
Use a great hook
Having a strong introduction can help you stand right of the gate. Use an anecdote or a story which shows why you are interested in pursuing your STEM major. Starting your essay with a surprising fact, compelling anecdote or unexpected question can grab the reader’s attention and make a good impression right away.
Showcase how challenges taught you resilience
Detailing hardships can be difficult for you to share, but showcasing how you overcame those hardships (or plan to with the help of this scholarship) might be great to showcase how these challenges have taught you resiliency and grit.
Try to leave the reader feeling hopeful about your future by staying positive throughout your essay, even if you’re talking about hard topics or feelings.
Giving specific examples of how the award relates to your life is more impactful than simply explaining why you deserve to win.
Proofread and follow directions
Check the deadline, submission scholarship application and pay particular attention to the scholarship essay criteria such as word count. Ask a mentor to proofread your essay or utilize a professional proofreading service. Everyone needs an editor, so use a proofreading service to see what improvements could be made.
Scholarship essays are very important when applying for scholarships.
EssayEdge helps students get into their dream colleges and universities by providing essay editing service, you’ll craft an admission essay that will get you noticed as an applicant. 90% of their customers enter the top 10 universities in the United States. Would you like to be one of them?
Founder IO Scholarships
Her determination and hard work paid off as she won grants and scholarships to pay for her entire education. In realizing how time consuming and complicated the process of finding scholarships for STEM diverse students was, María Fernanda created IO Scholarships to make things much easier. She learned first-hand to find, apply for and win scholarships and became an advocate promoting scholarships nationwide.
“IOScholarships was inspired by my own experience as I was very fortunate to access scholarships to attend prestigious universities and realized that more could be done to support minority students especially now as STEM education becomes more important to workforce opportunities,” said María Fernanda Trochimezuk, Founder of IO Scholarships. “IO Scholarships will not only help underrepresented students find scholarships, but level the playing field so all students have the opportunity to achieve their education goals.”
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