Do you know that your college major can qualify you for certain scholarship opportunities?
Majoring in what you love is a great way to ensure a fulfilling career, but it can also help you win college scholarships. Whether you’re planning to major in English, finance, engineering or any other subject, there are scholarships offered by field of study that can help cover your education expenses.
It’s important to know that finding scholarships by major is not the same thing as actually winning scholarships by major. In other words, the strategies to find these prizes are not the same as those that will help you win them. How to position yourself for success when you apply for scholarships by major is what we’ll cover below. These unique prizes require a specific kind of thinking. Typically, scholarship committees will be looking for students who have potential to make meaningful contributions to their major field of study.
While good grades will help, the criteria for winning scholarships by major usually goes beyond your GPA. Put simply, it’s about your ability to convey how much promise your career has. For example, are you a history major planning to rewrite the way we view a particular subject? Are you a STEM major looking to make a big contribution to technological innovation? Or, are you a business major with the next great market solution?
Whatever your career path may be, the tips below will help you create a strong application for scholarships by major. We’ll focus on framing your personal statement to position you to be the scholarship winner.
Highlight Your Ambition and Career Goals
When constructing scholarship applications for prizes focused on your major, you should highlight your career ambition and goals. After all, the point of these scholarships is to encourage students to pursue a career in a specific area of focus.
For example, if you are applying for an award that focuses on teaching, you should discuss how you plan to use this award to further develop your teaching skills so that you can become an effective teacher.
The most important thing to do is to showcase the unique experiences and skills you have gained (and continue to gain) through your studies in relation to the prize’s mission. You can also use this opportunity to communicate what you want to do after graduation, whether you plan to work or continue in academia.
Ultimately, when you write about your career, you should focus on the future. It is important that your application address two topics: what potential do you have to contribute to this field and how will you use that potential? In relation to these questions, you can write about what type of impact you hope to have on society, but be sure not to make any grand or implausible assumptions about how much impact your work will have … at least not until you’re closer to doing it!
Speak About Service and Community Building
When applying for scholarships by major, it’s important to remember that you’re not just writing about what you’ve learned in the classroom. You’re also contributing to building a community of people who share your passion – in this goal, any scholarship committee will likely applaud your efforts and want to see you succeed.
However, when writing about extracurricular activities, don’t just talk about what you did—talk about how it enhanced your skills, and how it helped build a collective interest in the field that you’re studying. For example, if you’re applying for an art scholarship, talk about how your community service activities have helped build relationships with other artists and helped advance the field as a whole.
Any kind of leadership activities look great, too. If you’ve done any kind of research or independent study project, make sure to include that information in your application. Even if these activities don’t directly relate to the topic of the scholarship itself, they will show that you have initiative and are willing to go beyond what’s expected of you at school. In this case, make sure to state clearly that you plan to apply your leadership skills to your field of study or career.
When to Amplify Your GPA
Grades are obviously important. But here’s the thing, you should absolutely highlight your GPA … but only if it’s strong. If your grades aren’t stellar, don’t worry, we’ll cover what to do below.
If your GPA is high enough where you can compete with other students in your field, then by all means, talk about it! This makes your grades an asset by helping you stand out from the crowd and giving you an edge over other applicants.
In short, if you have close to a 4.0 GPA, make sure you include that in your application; it will certainly help to communicate that you’re really dedicated to your major.
Average GPA? Focus on Your Courses
On the other hand, if your grades aren’t incredible, change the focus of your personal statement. You may choose to highlight specific courses that you did well in, for example. In this case, you can show that you may not be an expert in everything, but you’re great at your major and dedicated to it.
In addition, if you’ve done research in your field, highlight that. If you’ve taken classes that relate to the prize and learned something new or unusual about the subject, be sure to include that in your application as well.
Also, if you have a B+ average in a competitive undergraduate program (e.g., engineering), don’t take up valuable application space telling the committee about your 3.8 GPA from high school. The committee already knows you’re an engineer and how hard it is to get into an engineering program in college. As mentioned in a section above, dedicate more of your scholarship application to your future. It will convey something much more valuable about you to the scholarship selection committee than your grades as a high school student.
It’s not enough to tell scholarship judges what you’re good at and why you deserve a scholarship; you have to show them how you’re going to use your strengths and ambitions to do something worthwhile in the world. This is especially true when a scholarship selection committee is interested in one major field of study.
It’s easy to get trapped in a loop of thinking about what you’ve done and how it’s shaped who you are today. But when writing scholarship essays, it’s important to take a step back and look at the big picture: where you want to be tomorrow, next year, in five years. What kind of impact do you want to have on the world in relation to your major? And how will this prize help you get there? It’s important to be optimistic about what’s possible! You’ve got this!