There are lots of scholarships out there for military spouses, dependents, and service members who want to attend college and other training… and some of them are just waiting for you.
Yes, you can use the Post-911 GI Bill / the Forever GI Bill if you have access to it, but you can also compete for scholarship money to support your education and training needs. Doing so will enable you to use the GI Bill later on or save it for a dependent.
Some scholarships are more competitive than others, but you (or the loved one you are coaching) can increase your chances of successfully winning scholarships by following a few simple guidelines.
- Putting a reminder on your calendar and in your phone for the hard deadline.
- Putting a reminder on your calendar and in your phone for a week before that deadline—just in case.
- Planning backward so you know the steps you must take to meet each application’s criteria and have solid deadlines for those steps along the way.
- Submit the type of file the application requests… not just the one that is easiest for you. If the application asks for all of the components in a single PDF file instead of multiple Word files, you should submit that PDF.
- Title your submissions using the guidelines listed in the application.
- Make sure you include all of the components the committee requests. There’s nothing like that sick feeling of being eliminated for work you failed to attach or complete… especially when you know you could have done it.
So, at this point, I’ve sat on a few scholarship committees. I’m always amazed by the variety of answers provided to the same essay questions (sometimes in a good way… sometimes in a not-so-good way). I understand that these questions can be general, sometimes on the verge of being completely vague. Some may ask you to do too much, others too little. Regardless of the quality of the question(s), it’s imperative that your response explicitly deal with the topics posed in the question.
Many scholarship essay questions delve into topics where it’s easy to generalize and stray off topic. Some will ask about personal successes, failures, and goals. No matter the topic, stick to it, and offer concrete examples to illustrate your points.