Q&A with Jessica Velasco: Breaking Down the Scholarship Application

college scholarship

This week’s guest on #CampusChat was Jessica Velasco (@Admissions411) of JLV College Counseling. Jessica has over ten years of experience in higher education and has served as an admissions officer and director. She uses her inside knowledge to help students and their families as they move through the college search and admissions process.

Following is the Q&A featuring Jessica’s advice on the scholarship application process.

Q1 All scholarship apps need a student’s name & email address.  What are some do’s and don’ts here? #CampusChat

A1 Use a professional email address, such as your name for all college and scholarship communication. #CampusChat

A1 Double and triple check you entered your email correctly. It might be the only way they will contact you. #CampusChat

A1 Refrain from using an email that can be seen as offensive – No alcohol, drug, sex, or violence references. #CampusChat


Q2 What about the scholarship essay? How can a student get his or her essay to stand out to the judges?  #CampusChat

A2 Catch the reader’s attention early. If it doesn’t catch their interest early, they may stop reading. #CampusChat

A2 Reread your essay – if someone could send in the same essay, they probably will. Make the essay uniquely yours. #CampusChat

A2 Be yourself – don’t write what you think the judges want to read. #CampusChat


Q3 Should students include a scholarship/activity resume with their apps?  Do they really help?  #CampusChat

A3 Resumes/Brag sheets are great ways to showcase all of the great things you’ve done – include one if you can. #CampusChat

A3 Resume/Brag sheets can highlight accomplishments that you may not have been able to share in the scholarship app #CampusChat

A3 Do not include if directions say do not include additional items. Not following directions = no scholarship #CampusChat


Q4 So many scholarship apps are submitted online now.  What tips can help make them impressive? #CampusChat

A4 Use fonts that are easy to read. Fancy fonts probably will not impress the judges. #CampusChat

A4 If asked to submit a document, don’t use a program that is not common – they may not be able to open it. #CampusChat


Q5 There is often an “other info” box that students can fill out.  What should they say here, if anything? #CampusChat

A5 Add info that could make your case for the scholarship – more details about activities, etc. #CampusChat

A5 Don’t Repeat – Don’t use “other info” to repeat info that was already included in the scholarship app. #CampusChat

A5 It’s okay to leave the “other info” area blank if everything was already included in the scholarship app and essay. #CampusChat


Q6 For physically mailed in scholarship applications, what are some important tips?  #CampusChat

A6 Mail all app materials together, including the rec if you can. This will ensure they get everything they need. #CampusChat

A6 Don’t guess about postage. Take it to the post office to ensure you pay the correct postage. #CampusChat

A6 Adding tracking can ease your mind when you’re wondering if it has been received. #CampusChat


Q7 Most scholarship apps require a letter of recommendation or two.  How can students get the best one possible?  #CampusChat

A7 Give your rec writers at least a few weeks to write the rec – last minute requests might not be accommodated. #CampusChat

A7 Give rec writer details about scholarship – Writer may choose to cater the rec specifically to the scholarship. #CampusChat

A7 Provide a brag sheet. Even if you know the rec writer well, they might have forgotten all of the great things you’ve done. #CampusChat


Q8 What are some ways that students can further impress judges on a scholarship application? #CampusChat

A8 Follow all directions. Not following directions could automatically disqualify you for the scholarship #CampusChat

A8 Answer all questions. Don’t get caught up in telling your story and forgetting something the essay prompt asks for. #CampusChat

A8 Make your essay stands out – the essay could be the only thing that distinguishes you from other qualified applicants. #CampusChat


Q9 Do judges check the social media habits of students?  How does this behavior impact scholarship decisions? #CampusChat

A9 Some check social media, others do not. Always be safe and assume they will check social media. #CampusChat

A9 Your online presence should match how you are presenting yourself to the scholarship judges. #CampusChat

A9 Negative and unprofessional activity online could lose you the scholarship, even if you were the most qualified. #CampusChat


Q10 What are your 3 BEST tips for submitting college scholarship applications? #CampusChat

A10 Read the scholarship information closely. Follow the directly carefully – not following directions could disqualify you #CampusChat

A10 Submit an essay that stands out from the crowd – don’t send in the safe essay others will also submit. #CampusChat

A10 You don’t have to wait until the deadline – there could be unforeseen circumstances that could make it late. #CampusChat