Editors note: This post was written by Caroline Sabsoul, Communications Coordinator at Phi Theta Kappa.
My first experience with the PTK Scholarship application was in the Spring of 2018. My advisor had a session to go over the application, how to complete the eligibility quiz, important questions to highlight, etc. As an international student, it was a breath of fresh air knowing we could apply for scholarships, as we are rarely eligible for those, so I was eager to submit my application. However, like any other student to ever live, things got in the way, I procrastinated a whole lot, submitted my app at the last minute and, once I wasn’t selected for any scholarships, got really frustrated.
I knew, deep down, that I hadn’t done my best to create an application that truly reflected my accomplishments. By then I was serving in leadership positions at my chapter, doing volunteering work, basically all the tools you need to make your application shine. Fast forward to 2019. After I graduated from my community college, the scholarship team reached out asking if I wanted to be a judge for the Fall scholarship cycle. I said yes, of course. Once I found out what judges look for in a winning application, I knew exactly why mine wasn’t selected, and couldn’t blame the judges at all, as I hadn’t done half of what I could have. Here are a few tips to help you make the most out of your application, from a PTK member and scholarship judge:
- Start early. As students, there’s nothing we love more than procrastinating. Getting things done at the last minute is a skill we often boast about, but good scholarship applications can’t be done in a day. Take your time to go over the app, separate the mini-essay questions you’ll need more time with, and draft your responses to give yourself time to organize your thoughts.
- It’s all in the details. As a student, I didn’t really understand the difference that including details made in the application, but they are probably the most important part of it. The judges don’t know you; they don’t know anything about what you’ve done and your accomplishments. Write your answers like you are telling a story, so judges can get an exact picture of what you’ve done, and the impact of it. Most questions will have a 250-word limit, and if you can, use it all. Don’t fluff it, though!
- Double-check the questions. Something I love about the PTK Scholarship app is that the questions are really straight forward. Every question in the app has a blue question mark next to it with details of exactly what judges will be looking for. Make sure to answer ALL parts of the question!
- Invest in community service. Serving your community not only feels great but also makes your application stand out! The PTK Scholarship app has a tab dedicated to volunteerism, but you can expect to see some aspect of community service in any scholarship application you apply for. A great way to get some community service hours in is getting involved with your PTK chapter. The app also has a tab dedicated to your involvement with PTK, and while not having any involvement is not a deal breaker, getting involved can help make your app shine!
One final piece of advice to all PTK members: apply. Scholarship apps can be intimidating, but there is no chance of getting a scholarship if you don’t apply for one. Check out the PTK Scholarship Resources, our Youtube Channel for scholarship webinars, and most importantly, reach out to Phi Theta Kappa if you have any questions. We are here to help every student succeed, and don’t forget:
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Michael Scott – Wayne Gretzky