Archive for November, 2012

How to Apply for a Scholarship

Posted: November 8, 2012 by UI Upward Bound in College Info, Scholarships

Applying for scholarships is a lot like applying to colleges. You start with a large number of possibilities and cut that down to a short list of choices. Then you have to complete and submit applications that include essays, recommendations and lists of achievements that highlight your best qualities.

You may hear various suggestions about the best way to apply for scholarships. The truth is, what works for one person may not work for another. There are no secrets to applying. The best advice is to use common sense and follow directions.

Don’t Miss Deadlines

Some scholarships have deadlines early in the fall of senior year. Mark the due dates on your calendar and work your way backward to figure out how much time you’ll have to get each piece of the application finished.

Start Your Research Early

Researching scholarships, requesting information and application materials, and completing applications all take time. Use Scholarship Search to get started.

Read Eligibility Requirements Carefully

If you have a question about whether you qualify for a certain scholarship, contact the scholarship sponsor. There’s no point in applying for a scholarship you’re not eligible to receive.

Get Organized

Make a separate file for each scholarship and sort the files by application due dates.

You should also gather the items you’ll need to apply. Many scholarships ask you to send some or all of the following:

  • High school transcript
  • Standardized test scores
  • Financial aid forms, such as the FAFSA or CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®
  • Parents’ financial information, including tax returns
  • One or more essays
  • One or more letters of recommendation
  • Proof of eligibility for the scholarship (for example, proof of membership in a certain group)

You might also need to prepare for an interview. And if you’re competing for talent-based scholarships, you’ll probably need to audition or submit a portfolio.

Follow Instructions

Stick to the word limit for the essay. If supporting materials are not requested in the application, don’t send them.

Use common sense, start early and follow directions.

Check Your Application

Before you send the application in:

  • Make sure you filled in all the blanks. You can contact scholarship sponsors if you aren’t sure how to fill out part of the application.
  • Make sure your answers are readable. If you can, fill out the application online. If you have to write out the application, print neatly.
  • If you’re reusing material (such as a cover letter or an essay) from another scholarship application, make sure you haven’t left in any incorrect names.
  • Proofread your application. Run spell check and grammar check on the application. Also, have someone else read your essays to catch mistakes and give you feedback.
  • Remember to sign and date your application.

Keep Copies of Everything

Having copies of your scholarship application makes it easy to resend quickly if application materials get lost in the mail. If you’re applying for a scholarship online, save copies of your work on your computer.

Track the Package

If you’re submitting your application by mail, consider using certified mail or requesting a return receipt to confirm that your materials arrived at their destination.


How to Prepare for Admission Tests

Posted: November 8, 2012 by UI Upward Bound in Uncategorized

If you’ve started thinking about college, you’ve probably heard about admission tests, such as the SAT and the ACT. Colleges use scores from these tests to help them make admission decisions. So it makes sense to plan to do your best on the exam. Here are some tips to help you do that.

The Best Way to Prepare

The best way to prepare for an admission test is to work hard both inside and outside the classroom. Take challenging courses, study hard, and read and write as much as you can.

Practive Tips

You can take some simple, smart steps to help you put your best foot forward.

Know what to expect. Being familiar with the test’s format is the single best way to prepare for that test. Go to the testing organization’s website or check out books to get familiar with the various test sections and the instructions for each part. You’ll feel more confident if you know the test format beforehand, and you can save valuable time during the exam.

Take preliminary tests. The organizations that offer the SAT and the ACT also offer tests that are meant to be taken in sophomore or junior year. The PSAT/NMSQT is available as practice for the SAT, and PLAN is available as practice for the ACT. These preliminary, or introductory, tests make great practice tests because they have the same formats and question types as the admission tests.

Take practice exams — for free or at low cost. The good news is you don’t need to spend a lot of money on test-prep courses. In fact, studies show that high-cost test preparation gets most students little in terms of results. You can find free practice exams on the SAT and ACT websites and in study guides from the test makers in the library, bookstores or your counselor’s office. These practice exams can help you discover your strengths and weaknesses and learn to manage your time wisely during the test.

See what areas need work. When you get the score from your practice test, pay attention to the types of questions that gave you trouble and then focus on those areas as you prepare. You can find advice and practice doing different types of questions on the test makers’ websites. But remember, the best way to prepare for the test is to study hard and do well in your classes. So don’t let practicing for admission tests interfere with your course work.

Check your timing. Be sure to time yourself while you are completing practice exams so you can experience real test-day conditions. Admission tests are strictly timed, and their timing is different from regular high school tests. If you find you finished early and got easy questions wrong, slow down and read questions more thoroughly. If you didn’t finish in time, check out the test-taking tips and study aids on the SAT or ACT website or ask your school counselor or a teacher for help.

Last-Minute Tips

Taking the following steps will help you arrive on time and stay alert during the test.

Get a good night’s sleep before the exam. Set out your admission ticket, identification, acceptable calculator, No. 2 pencils and erasers before going to bed. Set your alarm so you wake early enough to have time for a good breakfast.

Know where your test center is located. Print out and review directions in advance. Arrive at the test center early. Leave extra time to get there in case you run into delays.

Bring a snack. Bring something handy to eat during breaks so you can stay focused and sharp.

How to Write a College Admission Essay

Posted: November 8, 2012 by UI Upward Bound in Uncategorized

Even the most gifted student can look at the college admission essay as a daunting challenge.  A blank page, a lame prompt and less than 500 words not only to describe your inner most self, but more importantly, to sell yourself to an admissions staff whom you will probably never meet.  Thanks to the growing popularity of the common application, you may need only pen a single essay.  However, that also means you only have one shot to get it right.  No pressure at all, right?  Fear not. Even though more than 300 U.S. colleges now accept the common app, that represents less than 10% of schools and even those using it may still include supplements to get a look at the real you.


  1. Follow their directions.  If they say 500 words, don’t write 1,000; if they ask you to write about an inspiring historical figure, do not write about your first grade teacher.
  2. Choose your passion.  Whether you are provided with a prompt or expected to shoot from the hip, it is easier and more natural to write from your heart rather than your head.  Write about what really matters to you and your inner self will shine through.
  3. Be accurate and honest.  If you’re including facts and figures, make certain they are correct.  If you say you scaled Mt. Everest, be prepared to offer them a handful of snow.
  4. Show, don’t tell.  This is the same advice your writing teachers have been giving you for years.  Rather than tell them that you’re a local hero because you pushed a baby out of onrushing traffic, describe the scene, the sounds, the smells.  Paint a picture with your words.
  5. Write to the best of your ability, not someone else’s.  As a high school senior, you should have a good command of sentence structure, grammar and vocabulary, but even if this is your weakness, do not try to overcompensate.  Using  words that aren’t a natural fit to who you are will be disingenuous, and worse, may lead the reader to believe these new words belong to  someone else.
  6. Do not oversell.  There’s a line between confidence and cockiness and you need to err on the side of humility.  Rely on your grades, test scores, class rank and activities to boast, not your essay.
  7. Be funny.  If you’ve always been the class clown, here’s your chance to reflect that all those paths to the principal’s office were leading you somewhere else.  Be careful.  Humor works if you’re good at it, but sarcasm and shock value have no place in a college essay.
  8. Take a chance.  Be different.  It may sound risky, but taking a chance can truly separate your essay from the thousands the admissions personnel must read.  What can you do to make yours stand out?
  9. Don’t be quirky. While you want to stand out you do not want to use gimmicks–no funny fonts, colored paper, included gifts.
  10. Rewrite it as many times as necessary.  Edit and re-edit.  Have someone read it over and check for grammar and punctuation.



By Linda Emma, eHow Contributor