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As a scholarship mentor, one of the biggest obstacles I’ve seen is when promising students face rejection early in their scholarship journey.

Of course, finding and applying for scholarships takes time. So, when a student doesn’t see a return on their investment, it can be discouraging.

If a student is going to quit applying for scholarships, this is likely the moment when it will happen. Early rejection offers an apparent justification to cut losses and stop now.

However, after working with many students, I’ve seen the tools that successful applicants use in response to early rejection.

In addition to having a belief that they can win, successful students approach the scholarship process with intent. They plan. They execute.

Approaching the scholarship process with intent is an important mindset hack. Intent promotes organization. It promotes commitment.

Unbreakable intent wins scholarships.

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Commit, No Matter What

One of the most important parts of forming clear intent is commitment.

Commitment can mean a variety of things, such as prioritization, personal responsibility, and planning.

Combining these three elements makes it very clear, you intend to win scholarships and you’re going to organize your time to do just that.

Now here’s the thing. There are likely many forces that will try to pull you or your student away from this commitment. School and life pressures certainly have a way of doing that.

This is why prioritizing scholarships and taking personal responsibility for the application process is so crucial. You or your student must commit, no matter what.

More Than Cliché: Having a Plan Matters

One of the best symbols of someone’s ambition is their schedule.

I guarantee you that top students make time to study, top athletes make time to train, top artists make the time to create, and … well, you get the picture.

In short, anyone with a goal approaches their day with intent. An intent to improve or to take even just a baby step forward. The best way to do this is to plan.

Do you or your student want to find 10 scholarships by the end of this week? Create a plan and develop a clear intent to see it through.

Do you or your student want to win five scholarships this year? Create a plan and develop a clear intent to see it through. See what I mean?

Having a plan is a sign that you’re clear about your goals. Whether you want to win one or many scholarships, your plan must reflect your aspirations. Your intent must be scheduled.

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Outline a Clear Purpose: Write it Down, Think About it Regularly

A purpose is different than a goal. But, a goal can serve a purpose.

What is your or your student’s purpose? Is it to graduate debt-free? Is it to land a fulfilling career? Or, is it something else?

I’ll be honest, when I first applied for a scholarship, it was out of financial desperation. Simply put, I needed the money.

Soon thereafter, I saw how winning money boosted my student and professional profile. I understood the prestige and long-term benefit that came along with it all.

It was at that point that scholarships served a bigger purpose for me; career growth.

“What would I think about someone who won several scholarships?” I thought to myself. The answer was very positive. That person would likely be a great communicator, motivated, bright, and … someone I’d like to have on my team!

Building a great career was my purpose and winning scholarships acted as goals along the way to help me to do that. I thought about it every week. It shaped my intent. It shaped my action.

Intent and the Scholarship Mindset: Final Word

Intent means doing something on purpose, with purpose.

I like to echo this message because the scholarship journey isn’t always smooth. It can be frustrating. One of the biggest frustrations, of course, is that most students will not win every scholarship they apply for.

It’s perfectly understandable for this to be the case, but it can be discouraging.

To conquer the frustrating and discouraging moments, it’s important to respond with clear and purposeful steps. Plan, commit, and demonstrate the desire to win a scholarship through action.

Intent matters and it’s an important part of the scholarship mindset.

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