Posted on September 3rd in REACH Blog

Our Best Tips for Overcoming Scholarship Obstacles

Students at Catalyst

Editor’s Note: This originally appeared in the Five Star Advisor Plan curriculum. It has been edited for voice and clarity. Advisors, enroll in the plan today to get more helpful info like this!

Information overload! There is so much information on the web regarding scholarships, you can get discouraged before filling out your first application.

To avoid scholarship obstacle fatigue, below are some key points to remember during the application process. And, with the PTK fall scholarship application deadline approaching on October 25, there’s no time to lose.


There are plenty of scholarships out there, but you must know where and how to find them.

  • Finding the right scholarship to apply for can be a difficult and overwhelming task. Scholarship search platforms like PTK Connect are a great start to finding scholarships that are a good match. Some highly reviewed scholarship search platforms are listed here.
  • PTK members receive over $90 million in scholarships annually. Check out scholarships offered by PTK, our four-year college transfer scholarship partners, and other organizational partners.
  • Be cautious when using filters in scholarship search platforms. While this is certainly a way to narrow down scholarships that are a good fit, this could also limit the search results if too many filters are used.
  • Familiarize yourself with some of the basic financial aid terms and definitions.


There are countless scholarship programs available for you to apply for; however, it is important to remember that not every scholarship is the right fit. Before applying for a scholarship, it is imperative that you know:

  • The purpose of the scholarship — Knowing this helps tailor responses to meet the intent of the program. A tailored application helps judges see how and why you are a good fit for the program and increases your chances of being selected to receive the award.
  • The dates and eligibility criteria of an application — You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take, and many students don’t apply for scholarships because they don’t know enough about deadlines and eligibility criteria. It is critical to start the application process early and submit well in advance of the deadline to avoid distractions that hinder application completion. Eligibility quizzes are in place on many scholarship applications to help you become aware of the programs in which you are eligible. Honesty is key. Manipulating responses to an eligibility quiz to force an application open will cause you to waste time if you aren’t eligible.
  • Your transcript — Interpreting transcripts can be tricky. It’s common for scholarship providers to look at different things on a student’s transcript like the number of credits earned, credits earned within a certain time frame, if remedial courses are taken, and if the student has coursework listed as incomplete. Be on the lookout for what the scholarship provider is seeking and contact the provider if you have questions. PTK’s Scholarship Team is always on standby to help evaluate a transcript if needed. Need help converting quarter to semester credits? Check out our help guide.


A basic level of understanding about the scholarship process as a whole can help you sleep better after you’ve submitted the application. 

  • Administrative processes behind a scholarship vary for each program, and they often include multiple phases, including judging and verification processes.
  • Be aware that timelines for scholarships vary — there could be several months that pass between when you initially apply for a scholarship and when you actually receive the funds.
  • One item you may not plan for is how a scholarship will affect a financial aid package. Some scholarship providers send scholarship funds directly to you, while others send funds directly to the college.


Our last tips are for the application itself: 

  • Time management is extremely important when applying for scholarships. Deadlines can creep up fast!
  • Build a Scholarship Resume and use Scholar Snapp so you can bank your answers to the most commonly asked questions on scholarship applications. No need to reinvent the wheel!
  • ESL/language barriers can prove to be a major obstacle when applying for scholarships — overcome this by asking someone to proofread your application, or ask your advisor to connect you with someone who could help.
  • When telling your story on an application, know that judges look for quality over quantity. While it is great to write the maximum word limits set for applications, judges are more interested in how you tell your story or answer the questions.
  • Involvement is key. Getting involved in the community and/or college campus strengthens the leadership, participation, and volunteerism components of your application. Stronger applications open up the possibility for you to receive more scholarships.


Questions? Contact PTK’s Scholarship team at 601.987.5741 or

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