By tkrauseDid you apply for our Unigo “5 Simple Words” $10,000 Scholarship last fall? If so, you weren’t alone. We had over 40,000 submissions, and choosing just four winners was harder than we anticipated. First of all, you guys are super creative! And, while reading 40,000 essays sounds more like a punishment, we actually had fun reading both the five words and the accompanying essays. It took weeks for our scholarship committee to read every essay (yes, we actually read them!) and decide which four students would ultimately walk away with the $10,000 scholarships. As you can imagine, each one of our scholarship winners was thrilled to be selected from such a competitive field of applicants. So, we wanted to know what it took to help them make it into our winner’s circle. Was it sheer luck? Did they have a strategy? Or, was it something else? Here’s what they had to say, and the scholarship tips they hope will help you win something, too. Christian C. 5 Simple Words: Gyunyu, Tamago, Gohan, Calpico, Omocha My method for finding scholarships involves browsing through scholarship databases. The occasional web surf turns out some interesting scholarships, as well. I didn’t ask for or receive any guidance when editing my application, but my entry was inspired by my cultural background. To date, I’ve probably applied to 4 or 5 independent scholarships, and so far, Unigo is the only scholarship I have won (not including those offered by the colleges where I have been accepted). If I could give other students one piece of advice when it comes to winning scholarships, it would be this — don’t give up hope. It’s daunting when you think about how much competition there will be, but that scholarship is as much yours as anybody else’s; this is your chance to make your dream possible. Don’t quit. Hayley H. 5 Simple Words: baking, blooming, beating, burdenless, buoyant When I first started looking for scholarships, I Googled things like “scholarships for girls,” “scholarships for vegetarians,” and “creative writing scholarships.” I found resources like Unigo (and other online services) that led me to more websites with many options for me. I wrote and edited all of my applications and essays on my own, but I did ask some people who worked in college admissions for some advice on what colleges are looking for in applications. I would guess that I have applied for at least twenty scholarships. I spent all of my free time at the beginning of the year searching for scholarships and writing my submissions. The “5 Simple Words” Scholarship is the only one I have won so far, but I have also received scholarships from the colleges I have applied to. When applying for scholarships, I think it’s important for students to ignore their first instincts. Whatever I think of first is most likely what everyone else will say, too. I would advise students to think longer about it and try to come up with something outside of the box. Don’t be afraid to be abstract! Jacob C. 5 Simple Words: focusing, challenging, solving, inspiring, connecting I came across Unigo from a Google search for “scholarships for college bound students.” I have also used an online student resource provided by my high school to help locate scholarships. I did reach out to my parents for support and proofreading while writing and applying for scholarships, mostly from my mom. I’ve found outside perspectives invaluable in my many applications, for both colleges and scholarships. So far, I have applied for only two, Unigo’s “5 Simple Words” Scholarship and the Scholarship for Service from California Scholarship Federation. To date, Unigo’s “5 Simple Words” Scholarship has been the only scholarship I have been awarded. My piece of advice for students would be to take full advantage of the resources made available to them. It’s surprising how many opportunities are passed up solely because they’re overlooked. Do a little searching and you’ll be shocked by all the opportunities you find. Great advice from our recent winners, but we have one more tip to add, as well: believe in your ability to win. Two students are going to have a chance to win our next $10,000 scholarship contest, “RESIST THE IST: DEFY STEREOTYPES” — and one of them could be you!