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You’ve decided to apply for a scholarship that requires a video submission. Great! You’re taking advantage of creative scholarships, which is one resource that can help you pay for college or university tuition.

Given that creative scholarships are less typical than prizes requiring a personal essay, it’s certainly wise for you to research what can help you stand out in this particular kind of scholarship competition.

Creating a video submission is a great option if you feel that writing a scholarship essay isn’t your strongest skill. Since video scholarships reward you for creativity outside the written form, you may find that getting noticed and putting together a competitive application is easier for you. If this is the case, don’t shy away from the opportunity. There are plenty of scholarships out there that ask for a video submission rather than a personal statement.  

Key Items for a Great Scholarship Video Submission

Below, you’ll find some useful tips for applying to this kind of scholarship application. We’ll focus on ways that you can enhance three components of your submission:

  1.    The content of your video
  2.    The quality of your video
  3.    The way you present the information in your video

It’s important to know that there exists a diverse range of video submissions. Some scholarship contests may ask for a video answering a specific question or speaking about your career goals, whereas others may allow you to make any kind of video you want in response to a prompt. In any case, the points below are designed to help you win scholarship money (and if you do win, don’t forget to write a scholarship thank you letter!).

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Scholarship Application Videos Should Be Unique

If you want to stand out in a video scholarship, it’s all about creating something nobody else has. It may be overstated, but it stands true: scholarship committees want to reward a student who is unique. Being unique is up to you. It can come in the form of how you say something, what you say, the visuals you decide to use, or any other creative method that makes sense to you.

The thing about uniqueness is that it’s memorable. This is exactly what you need to be when a scholarship selection committee is reviewing dozens of submissions. At the end of it all, you want to be the student that leaves a positive and unforgettable impression. Doing or saying similar things to other applicants won’t help you achieve this. For this reason, take a chance and be memorable.

Use the Right Visual Tools

When creating a video submission for a scholarship, the most important thing is to use the right audio and visual tools to create a polished feel.

First, make sure that you have the right lighting. In most cases, natural light is best, but if you can’t get enough natural light in your room, you may have to use an artificial light source. If you’re using an artificial light source, make sure that it’s not too bright or too dark—you want to see all of your face in the frame. You don’t want shadows from this light source either; they can be distracting.

Use the Right Audio Tools

The next thing is sound quality: make sure that your microphone picks up your voice clearly without any background noise like traffic or other people talking. You can also add music or other sounds overtop of your voice; just make sure that these sounds aren’t too loud or they may drown out what you’re saying.

It’s worth acknowledging that the tools above may cost money, which can be a barrier. If this is the case for you, try your best to find free resources. With a recognition that technology and video mediums are important, many libraries, high schools, and colleges/universities invest in these tools for students to use. You may be able to rent high quality equipment at no cost, which is a huge benefit. You may also consider borrowing equipment from someone you know.

Consider a Script

It goes without saying that a major step in creating a video is to decide what you’ll say.

Once you have an idea of what you want to communicate, write a script. This will help ensure that all of the important details are included in your video submission and that it flows well from beginning to end. It’s also helpful to have a script if there is a strict time limit on the video length.

Once you have written out a script, record yourself reading it aloud and listen back (or ask someone else to watch and listen). Make sure that everything sounds natural and flows smoothly from start to finish. If something doesn’t sound right, go back and tweak it until it does! You may even want to re-record certain parts if needed (like if there’s a mistake or pause). You may also consider experimenting with different camera angles or lighting effects during certain parts of your script if you think it can enhance your message.

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Video Submissions Can Use Free B-Roll from Websites

When creating a video submission for a scholarship, you can consider using free B-roll resources.

B-roll is the footage that goes along with your main narrative as it helps to illustrate what you are saying. It can be shots of the location where you completed your work or it could be clips of people doing what they do in their day-to-day lives.

The important thing to remember when using B-roll is that it should support the narrative and not detract from it. If you use the wrong kind of B-roll, then you may end up sending out an application that confuses your audience rather than convincing them that you deserve a scholarship.

When looking for free B-roll resources, consider sites like Pixabay or Pexels, which have high quality images and videos that are free for personal use.

Edit! Postproduction Will Help Your Scholarship Video

Video submissions are a great way to showcase your talents, but they can be challenging to produce. When you’re working on a video submission for a scholarship, you want it to look good and sound great. But how do you make sure that happens?

One of the best ways is by editing. If you spend time thinking about how you want your video to look, and then take the time to edit it accordingly, then you’ll have a much better chance of winning!

Even if your content is great and you have the best camera in the world, if your video is poorly edited it will look unprofessional. Editing can make a huge difference in quality and professionalism.

One major focus, for example, can be ensuring that cuts between shots are smooth and natural to your viewer. It’s much better when everything flows together smoothly so that your audience doesn’t notice abrupt transitions when one shot ends and another begins.

If you’re using your phone or a webcam to shoot your video, there are plenty of free apps and YouTube tutorials that can help you get the most out of your videos. The investment of your time in postproduction editing is worth every penny—especially when those pennies are going towards something important like your education!

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Final Tip: Get Started on Your Scholarship Video Application Today

Preparation, planning, and a little bit of strategy go a long way toward producing a winning scholarship video that’s likely to impress judges. Although every scholarship judge is different and will have different expectations, the above tips should ensure that you are approaching your video with a full understanding of what it takes to get the most out of a scholarship opportunity.

Now that you have a leg up on the competition, it’s time to get started. Don’t waste another moment. There are many awards out there that can help fund your academic and career goals. You never know if you’ll be a scholarship winner until you try. Submit as soon as you can! Good luck!


Christopher Grafos, Ph.D., is the founder and chief scholarship mentor at BridgesEDU Scholarships.

He’s a first-generation university graduate whose life was transformed by education and winning scholarships. 

Scholarships help students financially, but they also help advance a student’s career. It’s his life’s work to champion this message and share the secrets to finding and winning scholarships. 

Read more about Christopher’s journey here