Scholarship books may be general references, or more targeted (“Scholarships for Women,” or “Scholarships for Engineers,” for example). Whenever you pick up a scholarship book, the first thing to do is look at how it’s organized, so that you’ll be able to focus your search. Most books of scholarship listings will have several indexes (sorting scholarship listings by academic discipline, geographic location, or sponsoring organization). The index is a great location to identify potential search terms that can help you with your scholarship research.
We recommend that you try a few different databases, since none of them is comprehensive. Examples can be found in the Scholarship Search section of our website here. You might also begin by trying a general scholarship search database, such as Unigo. You’ll give the database information about yourself (background, career goals, academic interests, hobbies, etc), and it will find scholarship matches based on your profile. Since many of the sites will send you email updates, it’s a good idea to set up a separate email account just to handle your scholarship information. .
Many departments at UCLA offer scholarships for their undergraduates—always check for listings on department bulletin boards, and ask an undergraduate advisor, student affairs officer, or counselor in the departmental office. Also, departmental staff members often receive information from scholarship agencies as well as university-based scholarships. To get started, click here.
In addition to the free searchable databases of scholarship information, you can find a wealth of information online. The key is focusing your search, so that you won’t be frustrated by the terrifying amount of information, and so that you can avoid disreputable sites and scams. Attend our Secrets to Winning College Cash workshop series to learn strategies for refining your search.
Most scholarship applications will include an official form where you will list your personal information.
Many applications require a personal statement or statement of purpose; some require a longer essay. Pay close attention to what the application is asking you to write about (career/academic goals? Formative experiences? Etc). You may be able to reuse essays (or parts of essays) for multiple applications—but remember to tailor your essay for the specific scholarship you’re applying for. Make sure to highlight the most pertinent aspects of yourself or your project. Try to make your essay unique and memorable—this is your chance to show the scholarship committee something about yourself. Always remember to proofread for typos and grammatical errors.
Show your work to peers, teachers, and our staff for feedback. We offer personal statement workshops and writing appointments; contact us for assistance.
Letters of Recommendation
Many students are anxious about getting letters of recommendation, since so many classes at UCLA are large (with most of the instructor-student contact coming from graduate students). Try to get to know your professors/instructors by attending office hours. Sometimes it is possible to get a letter from a Teaching Assistant, or to ask your Teaching Assistant to work with your professor in writing your letter. Depending on the scholarship, it is sometimes also possible to have a non-academic reference as well (from an employer or community leader, for example). It is important to have strong letters from people who know you and know your work.
Here are some tips to help you request strong letters that will support your application well:
- Ask your potential recommender directly, “Would it be possible for you to write a strong letter of recommendation on my behalf?”
- Give your recommender(s) plenty of time to complete the letter(s).
- Remind your recommender(s) as the deadline approached and collect the letter(s) yourself: DO NOT ASSUME that once you have asked for the letter and received an affirmative response from your recommender, the letter has been sent—follow up!
- Provide your recommender with the following materials so that he/she can write the most concrete and wonderful things about you: a) the scholarship application information (a summary in your own words is often best because the recommender might not have the time to read carefully through the entire application packet); b)the most recent version of your resume/CV); the most recent versions of the essays, statements, project proposals, and other writing samples required for the application; d) a short paragraph reminding the recommender of what you have accomplished lately, as well as a short paragraph about what you would like the recommender to highlight in his/her letter. The more information the recommender has about you and the scholarship you are seeking, the better your letter will be.
- Meet with your recommender in person when you give him/her the above material in case he/she has questions about the letter.
- Always remember to send a thank you note!
Read the application requirements carefully and determine whether you need an official transcript, or whether an unofficial transcript will be sufficient. Official and unofficial transcripts can be ordered through my.UCLA or at the registrar’s office in Murphy Hall. If you need an official transcript, be sure to allow enough time to receive your transcripts.
Completing and Submitting Your Application
Proofread your entire application to make sure you haven’t made any careless errors/typos. Be sure to meet all deadlines! Double check the timezone of the deadline. Don’t wait until the last minute to hit “submit”– we have heard too many stories about sites crashing to make that risk worthwhile.
Search multiple sources
There’s no single, comprehensive source that can filter and list all of the scholarships you’re eligible for. We recommend that you treat this like a research project, and consult several sources.
Take note of your interests, hobbies, career options, ethnic/religious background, affiliations, etc. There are scholarships based on many, many characteristics that may have nothing to do with grades or financial need.
Don’t limit yourself just to large scholarships—keep in mind that smaller scholarships add up, and each scholarship that you win gives you another “honor” to list on future applications, making you attractive to scholarship committees. Often, smaller scholarships will have fewer applicants, increasing your chances of winning.
Read applications carefully
Read carefully through all of the eligibility requirements for each award, and make sure you meet every requirement. You should also decide which scholarships are most worth your time to apply for—you will probably be eligible for many programs, and you might not have time to apply for all of them.
Stay organized and think ahead
Be sure to take note of what materials each application requires, and allow yourself plenty of time to gather everything. Especially if you’re applying for more than one scholarship, it is important to keep yourself organized. Keep a record of what you’ve done for each application—when you asked for your letters of recommendation, when you submitted your transcript request, etc. If you use online database searches like fastweb.com or unigo.com, we recommend setting up a separate email account just to handle your scholarship emails.