8 Scholarship Dos + Don'ts



Whether you're a high school senior or a non-traditional student, we understand that applying for scholarships is a daunting task, so we're here to help! Please leave us your comments below, let us know if this was helpful or if there is a topic that you think we should add. Click on these highlighted links for information on Community Foundation of Morgan County and Kendrick Foundation Scholarships, and continue reading below for a few tips we've picked up while reviewing and scoring scholarship applications.


http://bit.ly/cfmc-schParental support is essential during the scholarship application process! Parents can help proofread essays or extracurricular activity summaries, and household financial information will be needed to complete College Cost Estimators and the FAFSA. If you are considered a dependent for tax purposes, your parents will need to electronically sign release forms as well.

It is important to understand that for most scholarships, including scholarships from the Community Foundation of Morgan County and the Kendrick Foundation, students are expected to take full responsibility for completing their own application by the deadline. All information in the application must be written by the student. In compliance with privacy laws, we can only answer questions coming directly from the student.


The scholarships you apply for will most likely have different due dates, so here are a few tips to help you manage your time:
  • Create a timeline for all scholarships you are applying for.
  • Keep track of your deadlines on a calendar, whether its paper, an app on your mobile device, or computer.
  • If possible, attend scholarship seminars to get more detailed information from the scholarship administrators themselves.
  • Talk with your guidance counselor. They will most likely be able to help you stay on track of your applications with regularly scheduled meetings and electronic communications.

The Community Foundation of Morgan County and the Kendrick Foundation Scholarship deadline is February 17th at 4:00pm EDT. But, the Morgan County Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship has a deadline in the fall for students graduating the following spring. Scholarships from other institutions will also have different application deadlines, so make sure you stay on keep track of what scholarships you plan on applying for and when applications are due.


  • Academic Performance: Factors such as GPA, class rank, SAT/ACT/AP scores (if available), rigor of courses, and academic honors.
  • Extracurricular Involvement: Evaluators often assess the quality and quantity of extracurricular, community, or work activities. Leadership positions, a longstanding commitment to an organization or an activity, well-rounded involvement, and substantial community service are all good to have.
  • Essay: A strong essay will clearly explain personal and professional goals, include specific examples of involvement, and will use proper spelling/grammar/punctuation. Don’t forget! Outline, proofread, and proofread again!
  • Reference: CFMC and Kendrick Foundation scholarships only require 1 reference letter, but scholarships from other organizations may require anywhere from 1-3 reference letters. Reference forms or letters must be completed by a non-family member who is a community leader or educator. Be sure to ask your reference writer well in advance of the deadline.
  • Financial Need: Some scholarships consider financial need. Students applying for these scholarships through the Community Foundation of Morgan County and/or the Kendrick Foundation must complete the online College Costs Estimator report and release form. Scholarships from other organizations may require financial information from your parents, or the FAFSA’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC).


Image by Justin Luebke, Courtesy of Unsplash

When you apply for a scholarship apply for everything you think you are eligible for. Organizations that distribute scholarships know that plans change (or may not even be formulated yet). That’s okay! Just give them an idea of what you’re thinking about pursuing at this point, and explain what you’re looking for in a future college or career.


When listing test scores, list your highest overall score. This should be a composite score. Don’t break it down into categories or list previous scores unless requested. If you feel you scored poorly and you plan on retaking the test, state this if comments are allowed. The Community Foundation of Morgan County and the Kendrick Foundation Scholarship Application only allows entry for 1 composite score – so list your best score!


Image by Ben White, Courtesy of Unsplash.

Tell your story. Why do you deserve a scholarship? Don’t underestimate yourself. We all have stories to tell! You could consider this like a cover letter for a job application: describe who you are, what you want to do in the future, what past experiences you’ve had, and why you would represent your school, hometown, and county well. Word or character limit differs by institution, so read all of the instructions and plan ahead. For the CFMC Scholarship you have a maximum of 750 words, but you don’t have to use them all, remember that the scholarship committee is reading LOTS of these essays. Keep it interesting, but get to the point.

Some tips:
  • Compose your essay in Microsoft Word, or some other word processor. This will give you time to compose your thoughts, revisit your essay, and check your spelling and grammar. When you are satisfied with your essay, copy and paste it into the scholarship application.
  • Outline your thoughts before you start writing: this will help keep your essay clear and concise. Don’t forget transitions!
  • Consider breaking the essay into paragraphs or sections:
    • First you could present your particular skills, achievements, or strengths. Describe who you are. Use action verbs and concrete results. For example, if you helped raise money for a charity event, describe exactly how much money you raised and for what cause.
    • Then explain why you are applying for the scholarship. What do you want to study, what postsecondary institution do you want to attend, and how will that translate to your future career? Not sure? Do your best to describe your academic and career passions, and how you will accomplish these through higher education. o Third, explain why you’ve chosen this path. What specific experiences helped you identify or develop your passion?
    • Finally, be sure to explain why this scholarship would help you achieve your goals. Why should the scholarship be “invested” in you?
  • The order is completely up to you, but be sure to answer each part of the prompt. Specific examples are better than generic statements. Show the scholarship committee what you’re talking about, don’t just tell them.
  • There is no required citation style for the Community Foundation of Morgan County and the Kendrick Foundation application essay. However, you should be consistent throughout. Proper grammar, correct spelling, and accurate punctuation are a must. 
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread. Talk to your English teacher, guidance counselor, or parent about proofreading your essay. They may catch an error that you didn’t see. 
    • For example, this blog post was written and compiled by two people, who check each other's work, and then proofed by at least one other person. Proofreading is essential!


You only need one reference for most scholarships. This can be a teacher, employer, coach, pastor, scout leader, or any other educator or community leader who can provide feedback on your personal character, work ethic, and potential to succeed in college. This cannot come from someone related to you.

You should ask your reference writer right away. Many educators and community leaders are asked to complete multiple references, so the earlier you ask, the better chance you have that they will agree and be able to complete the form on time. You should provide them with any information they may need to complete an accurate recommendation (you may want to remind them of your relevant coursework, community/work involvement, or future aspirations).

You will not be able to see the information provided by your reference, but you will be able to see when it has been completed. It is your responsibility to talk to your reference and remind them of deadlines. Remember to thank them for helping with your application!


Image by Alex Holt, Courtesy of Unsplash.

We can’t stress this point enough, as your conduct can not only affect your ability to receive scholarships, but also affect your job prospects after graduation.

In most cases, scholarships are awarded once and paid directly to your higher education institution, though you can re-apply for certain scholarships each year. But, remember, your conduct matters! Most scholarships have a character clause and violations of this clause at any time, including violations occurring on dates up to and including the date the funds are transferred to the educational institution, may result in investigation and temporary withholding of funds, as well as possible subsequent withdrawal or termination of the award.

In 2015, the folks at staff.com compiled research that found that 92% of companies use social media to some degree in the hiring process. 1 in 3 employers rejected candidates based on what they found on social media and 3 out of 4 recruiting officers checked the social media accounts of prospective employees. Keep in mind that that majority of job recruiters had negative reactions to illegal drug usage and nudity.Visit staff.com's blog for an awesome infographic.

Don’t forget that once something is on the internet it is very difficult to remove, as deleting it from your account does not necessarily mean it is gone. In a world of social sharing, once something is on the internet it can instantly be saved and reshared across the globe.


Great resources for helping families plan and prepare for the college financial aid process

File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid online

Lots of information, glossary of terms, scholarship search and more links

Provides information on various aspects of college preparation

Offers information on Indiana colleges and universities, scholarship opportunities, etc.

Link to all 31 private colleges in Indiana with tuition and enrollment information

Great resource guide for parents and students

One of the largest free scholarship searches

Large database of free scholarship searches

Access to College Aid Sources for Higher Education, one of the oldest scholarship databases

Offers an extensive financial aid search

Federal information on scholarships/grants, loans, state financial aid, work-study, and military funding

About the Community Foundation of Morgan County

The mission of the Community Foundation of Morgan County is to connect donors and their charitable giving with our evolving community needs in order to enhance the quality of life for current and future generations through impact grant making. This mission has expanded exponentially with the $1 million matching grant from the Lilly Endowment in 2016.

The CFMC manages more than 40 scholarships, as well as the Morgan County Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship. Additionally, the CFMC administers the Kendrick Foundation Scholarship.

Find the CFMC online at: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn 

No comments:

Post a Comment