We Tell You EXACTLY What We’re Looking for in a Scholarship Applicant


Want some free money?

Who doesn’t?

Lucky for you, we have some to give away right here at AfterCollege! Yep, because our focus is on helping current college students and recent graduates, we want to provide as much support as possible. That’s why we offer a number of scholarships to students currently enrolled in a college or university.

Now, we would love to give this money to every student who applied. Unfortunately, we can only pick one recipient for each scholarship we offer.

Want to be that recipient?

We would like that, too. To help you craft a winning application, I’ve talked to the AfterCollege scholarship review committee about what they’re looking for in a scholarship applicant and how you can improve your chances of being one of our recipients.

What we’re looking for:

We’re looking for an impactful but succinct (250 words or fewer) personal statement. Tell us what drives you to pursue your field of study and show us how you’re working toward excelling in that industry.

And you can’t forget about your AfterCollege profile. Even though your personal statement is the main portion of your scholarship application, we still look over your AfterCollege profile.

If we have two amazing personal statements, we’ll examine each applicant’s profile to see any skills, honors, awards, past work/volunteer/student group experience, etc. to help us decide who the recipient will be.


Remember that we’re a job and internship resource. The scholarships that we offer are for students who will be exemplary candidates in their field when the time comes to find that job or internship. This means we look at each applicant through the eyes of a hiring manager, so:

  • Watch your grammar
  • Check your spelling
  • Put your best accomplishments forward
  • Check your spelling again


  • Write essay-length personal statements. Remember, your statements should be short, résumé-style statements of about 250 words or fewer.
  • Include really personal information. We’re looking for applicants who demonstrate professionalism. Though it’s possible to explain why you have certain goals or how you learned some important lessons through personal life experiences, use your best judgment here. That sad childhood story may result in our sympathy, but will it make us want to hire you?
  • Barely add any information onto your profile. We need to know why you deserve this scholarship and need to see proof that you’re working toward your goals!
  • Make spelling and/or grammar errors. Here’s a tip to make sure no spelling errors slip through the cracks: Create your profile ahead of time. Then, a couple of days before the scholarship application deadline, go over it again with fresh eyes. Maybe even enlist a friend or family member to help you proofread.

To help you get an even better picture of what we’re looking for in scholarship applicants, we’ve decided to share a couple of previous recipients’ profiles and go over what made them superstars in our eyes.

Examples of previous scholarship recipients:

Alant’e D.

AfterCollege STEM Inclusion Scholarship recipient

Click on the image to see the enlarged version.

Alant'e Dancy Scholarship Recipient

Why we like it:

  • Succinct but impactful personal statement. Alant’e D. demonstrates clear goals for his future career as well as outlines how he plans on getting there.
  • He cites relevant past honors/awards and skills
  • His work history includes relevant volunteer work, internships, and part-time jobs, showing us that he understands the importance of experience inside and outside of the classroom
  • Includes a link to his LinkedIn profile, which included more details about his work experience and demonstrated that he’s ready to network!

Morgan S.

AfterCollege Sales and Marketing Student Scholarship

Click on the image to see the enlarged version.

Morgan S. Scholarship Recipient

Why we like it:

  • Morgan makes it clear that even though she still has three more years of school, she’s fully aware of the future and is already looking for internship opportunities.
  • In her personal statement, Morgan focuses on what she has to offer in the field of marketing instead of why she wants to work in the industry.
  • She went the extra mile and got a recommendation from a professor. Having your statements backed up by a faculty member, employer, mentor, or other trusted source will amplify everything you tell us.

Homework time! Get started! Check out the scholarships we’re currently offering and start writing your personal statement and creating your AfterCollege profile. Remember, it’s helpful to create them now and then go back for a second look before the deadline. Reference this post for tips on what we’re looking for from your personal essay and how you can stand out on your AfterCollege profile.


6 Responses to “We Tell You EXACTLY What We’re Looking for in a Scholarship Applicant”

  1. Jim Jones

    I did not see any reference to restrictions for non-citizens. I have a significant number of international students and that is typically the first thing I look for before broadcasting these scholarship opportunities. You need to say right up front that scholarship are or are not open to international students as well as US Citizens.

    • Kellen McKillop

      Hi Jim,

      Thank you for checking in! Our scholarships are open to any and all students who are currently attending a college here in the states. So international students can definitely apply. Let us know if you have any other questions or concerns.



  2. amy tomashefski

    The first example has a typo in the personal statement. Not my idea of a perfect entry.

    • amy tomashefski

      The second one does too. Oh well, they both still seem pretty good.

    • Melissa Suzuno

      Hi Amy, well spotted! Ideally an application would contain no typos (hence our suggestion that you proofread, proofread, and proofread some more), but the committee must’ve thought that these applications were so strong that small typos didn’t disqualify the applicants.

      • Amy

        Thank you for your reply. I agree that they are good candidates, despite the typos. I suppose it’s a good example of why its valuable to have a second proofreader, because sometimes you miss those little things. Thanks again!


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