Getting accepted into college is an exciting and rewarding step in your educational journey. You’ve worked hard to get here.
Did you know that your hard work can pay off even after you’ve received your acceptance letter? That’s right. Your accomplishments, grades, and distinguished character can lead to tuition reducing scholarships.
Typically, scholarships are very competitive. For students seeking bachelor’s degrees, the odds of being awarded a scholarship are roughly 1 in 8. As scholarships increase in prestige and worth, the odds raise to 1 in 250 and up,1 according to FinAid.org.
But don’t let the odds discourage you. You already stand above the rest.
Melissa Nipper, Grand River Academy’s Dean of Academics, Guidance, & College Placement, notes that admission offices find boarding school graduates to be wonderful additions to college freshman dorms because they bring experience, maturity, and a positive mentorship to other freshman living away from home for the first time. One way admission committees get boarding school graduates to commit to their college is by offering them scholarships.
With so many applicants and a substantial amount of money on the line, scholarship board committees want to ensure that the right applicant receives the scholarship. To do this, committees select applicants who exemplify excellence in the application process – with their essays, letters of recommendations, etc. – and extend an invitation to interview for the scholarship. This gives committees a chance to assess an applicant’s character and personality,2 according to GoCollege.com.
Ready to standout during your college scholarship interview? Follow these five tips:
1. Research and Rehearse
Interviews can be nerve-racking and stressful to prepare for. You may be wondering: What will I be asked? How should I respond? Rest assured, you can enter your interview feeling confident and prepared. How? Unigo, a college networking site for current and future students, suggests the following:
- If the scholarship is aligned with a specific college or university, learn as much about the school as you can. This includes the school’s mission statement, history, points of pride, differentiators, culture, etc.
- If the scholarship is aligned with a business, learn about the company or organization that is providing the scholarship, including their mission statement, community involvement, and recent news.
- Get to know the people who will be interviewing you by utilizing LinkedIn and discovering their professional profiles.
- Review your application packet several times before the big interview, and be sure to bring extra copies of your résumé and any corresponding portfolio items.
- Rehearse your answers to some common scholarship interview questions, such as:
- Tell us about yourself.
- What is your biggest weakness?
- Give an example of a time you overcame adversity.
- Where do you see yourself in five or ten years?
- What three words would you use to describe yourself?
- Why do you think you deserve this scholarship?3
- What is your biggest academic achievement?
- What extracurricular activities do you take part in?
- What are your professional goals following graduation?
- How do you see yourself using your degree?2
Find additional college interview questions at CBSNews.com.
2. Ask Someone to Interview You
Mock interviews are a great way to get a feel for the real deal, practice how you’ll act, and rehearse what you’ll say, according to GoCollege.com. Ask a family member, a close friend, or a mentor to interview you as if they were apart of the scholarship committee. Have them ask you the questions you’ve been rehearsing, and allow them to ask impromptu questions.2
In any interview, it’s important to ask questions. When you engage the interviewer with questions of your own, it shows that you’re prepared and highlights your interest in the scholarship and in your college career.2
3. Dress Professionally
How can you show that you’re a serious student and committed to your future without even saying a word? Your appearance.
How you dress is critical to your interview success. Stand out from the other candidates by arriving in semi-formal business attire, such as slacks, a button-down collared shirt, a tie, and a matching suit jacket. A pair of dress shoes and a neat hair style will complete your professional look.
4. Arrive Early
In professional endeavors, being late is inexcusable. Arriving late to your scholarship interview is no different. Tardiness will convey a lack of respect for the interviewer, and a lack of interest in the scholarship.2 Give yourself extra travel time to ensure you’ll arrive early.
5. Be Yourself
Do you feel like you must impress the interview committee with extraordinary answers in order to be awarded the scholarship? This thought may make you more nervous than necessary and lead you to act out of character. It’s important to remember, according to Unigo.com, that you've already impressed the scholarship selection committee. “If they didn't see something remarkable or unique about you, you wouldn't have been selected for an interview.”3
Before you enter the interview, take a deep breath and relax. Be confident and honest, and be proud that you’ve made it this far. Your true character will showcase why you’re deserving of the scholarship.
It’s important to keep in mind that “even if you aren't awarded a scholarship at first, it doesn't mean you can't contact your admissions representative and have a discussion about how you could go about receiving one,” Melissa Nipper said. Additionally, Nipper explains that if you were awarded a scholarship already, keep in contact with your admissions representative, as your scholarship could be increased based on a higher GPA at graduation, earning National Honor Society, becoming an Eagle Scout, and many other enhancements.
1 FinAid. “Less Competitive Scholarships.” Accessed March 7, 2016. http://www.finaid.org/scholarships/lesscompetitivescholarships.phtml.
2 Go College. “Acing Scholarship Interviews.” Accessed March 7, 2016. http://www.gocollege.com/financial-aid/scholarships/apply/interviews.html.
3 Tamara. Unigo. “5 Tips for Successful Scholarship Interviews.” Accessed March 8, 2016. https://www.unigo.com/pay-for-college/scholarships/5-tips-for-successful-scholarship-interviews.