What Impression Do You Give Scholarship Committees?
Remember those pictures you posted to Facebook, Instagram, and Vine to show your friends how wild that party was? Could all those selfies really hurt your chance of winning a scholarship? You bet! Scholarship committees can see them too. Reviewing an applicant’s posts on social media sites is one of the ways scholarship committees get additional information to base their award decisions on. You’ll want to be sure that your social media sites either reflect the person you want the scholarship committees to see or that you’ve got those sites locked down tight.
Create Social Media Accounts to Win Scholarships
There is another option and one I like best: create a new Facebook account that’s totally focused on your scholarship business. Why Facebook? Because most people and scholarship organizations have a Facebook page. You might call your new page “Scholarships for Sarah” or “Sarah’s Scholarship Quest.” You get the idea. Set the privacy setting to “public” to permit people in your Scholarship Circle to post new scholarships and comment on your posts. This is also an easy way to quickly thank them for their scholarship leads and recommendation letters. It’s also a great way to get new scholarship leads and recommendation letters. Once you locate a scholarship you’re interested in, find the sponsoring organization’s Facebook page and “like” it to stay up to date on their news. Search for colleges you’re interested in (or attend) as well as organizations that relate to your major and “like” those pages as well.
I strongly recommend that students also set up a profile on LinkedIn. There are many benefits to joining LinkedIn as a high school or college student including:
- Receive email alerts or notifications on your profile page for jobs and internships based on your education and interests.
- Expand your business network to include your professors, advisers, mentors, employers (past and present), industry leaders, scholarship organizations, and people on your Scholarship Team.
- Get recommendations.
- Explore career paths.
- Research companies to find out what they do, what people are saying about them, and the type of people they hire.
- Companies who are seeking interns or have jobs to fill can quickly find you.
- Join professional groups in your field (or major) to expand your knowledge, ask questions, and make new connections.
- Join your university alumni group to connect with fellow students and see where they’ve found jobs and reach out to alumni whose companies are hiring.
LinkedIn has quite a few videos to help you build a great profile, find a job or internship, learn how to network, and prepare for interviews. You can also check out What Every College Student Should Post on LinkedIn from Mashable.
Another option I recommend is to set up a personal website using any number of tools that make it easy to get up and running immediately. You don’t need a domain name or experience with WordPress or Dreamweaver to share your story, add links to your social media accounts, or add photos and videos of your work. Here are 14 great ways to build your website today!
What to Post & Share to Gain Great Exposure
Post comments, photos, and videos of events and activities that will reflect your best qualities and impress scholarship committees. Here’s a list of 366 ideas from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and 4H. They’re organized by categories so you can pick something you’re passionate about (or at least interested in).
These are some particularly valuable activities that you will want to showcase on your social media sites:
Community Service—Many scholarships require participation in community service or ask you to write about it on their application or in an essay. Serving over a longer period of time is better than a day or two here or there. Scholarship committees favor students who demonstrate a commitment to community service. It shows them that you can stick with long-term goals (like graduating college). It demonstrates that you believe serving your community is important and that you share the same values as the committee. (Remember, they serve the community by providing scholarships to deserving students!)
Projects you did for your community, a nonprofit organization, or school can include:
- Assembling holiday gifts for homeless children or kids in foster care
- Reading stories to children in the hospital
- Teaching people how to use the Internet at a senior center
Leadership Activities—These are activities that you engage in either at school or after school that demonstrate your leadership ability. Obvious examples are captain of a sports team, student council member, or president/secretary/treasurer of a club. If you didn’t hold any of these positions, don’t panic. You’ll just need to consider your involvement in various organizations and activities, and how you participated. Ask yourself what your role was and then decide if you “took the lead” on something. Spend some time thinking about (and developing) this area because colleges and scholarship committees look for leaders when granting admission and awarding money.
- Starting a small business
- Running meetings or committees for school clubs or outside organizations
- Participating in scouting or 4H
- Attending leadership camp (your local colleges and universities likely offer teen leadership programs for schools and individuals)
Competitions and Awards—Post about competitions you enter and awards you receive. This allows people to see you shine and get to know you better. Even if you don’t win the award, you show everyone that you’re making a serious effort and you demonstrate resilience, persistence, and graciousness (just don’t go off on a rant about how you were robbed).
- Academic competitions in math, science, spelling, geography, writing
- Creative activities that you engage in such as a video of you performing music, singing, or acting. Photos of your art, copies of your poems or writing you submitted to contests, publications, or that you blogged.
Scholarships—Post about the scholarships you’re applying for and include links to the organization’s page. You never know who on your team may have a connection there and can put in a good word for you. Definitely post about the scholarships you win. This isn’t bragging. It’s an opportunity for your team members to celebrate the win with you! And if it’s one that a team member suggested to you, it let’s them know they’re not wasting their time sending you leads because you follow through. It’s also a chance for you to publically thank them.
Need more help? We coach students to help them set up their scholarship business, create a Scholarship Portfolio, and implement a social media strategy to win scholarships.