Simplifying scholarships

The difference between winning awards or coming up empty

Scholarship applications can be stressful but knowing what a review board is looking for and what mistakes to avoid can help. 

Ferris currently lists almost 300 scholarships on their website, MyScholarships. While not all students will qualify for every scholarship, most students on campus will qualify for at least a few. For students who will be applying for scholarships there a few dos and don’ts when it comes to applications, according to a variety of resources.


Make your essay stand out. Judges do not want to read what is essentially the same essay from hundreds of different people. The more thoughtful and unique your response is, the better chance you have of winning. 

Apply for scholarships that you think might be unpopular. Scholarships that offer less money or that require more time and effort often do not have as many applicants, which increases your odds of being awarded. 

Proofread your application and essay. You may miss small mistakes, so having someone else proofread your essay can be very beneficial. Try visiting the writing center on campus for help. 

Use professional language. “[Committees] can tell when students are applying with their phone, I think it’s fine to use your phone but students need to be really careful when typing in answers or essays that they don’t abbreviate like they would in a text and that they still capitalize and punctuate,” Ferris scholarship coordinator Kristine Workman said.


Don’t reuse essays. Each scholarship you apply for should have a unique essay that specifically addresses the topics that are asked. Using one essay and just changing the name of the scholarship may save time but it often will lead to failure. 

Don’t go over the word limit. Try to get close to the word limit but for many scholarships, exceeding the word limit will disqualify you. 

Don’t apply for everything. Applying for every scholarship available is time consuming and often leaves students burned out, which leads to subpar applications towards the end. Choose the scholarships that you think fit you best and that you have the best chance of winning and stick with those. 

Don’t get scammed. If a scholarship has an application fee there is a good chance that it is a scam. Other popular scams will ask for credit card information to hold the scholarship or will make you pay to view scholarships that are available elsewhere. 

When visiting the MyScholarships page on the Ferris website, you may notice that many of the scholarships list $0 or varies as the award amount, however, even scholarships listed as $0 do award money. 

“Some of them will say ‘varies’ or they might say ‘zero’ or not have a dollar amount listed for the scholarship award because we don’t always know from year to year what’s going to come in. We could work on making it so they say all say varies instead of zero,” Ferris scholarship coordinator Kristine Workman said. “It’s totally up to the donor, these are outside private donors so awards vary based on what each donor wants to give or has available to give that year… [Scholarships] won’t be on [MyScholarships] if we aren’t going to award it.”

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