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How to get a full ride scholarship

Bold.org Editorial Team

Top experts in a variety of areas

With how expensive college is becoming, many students are looking into how to get a full ride scholarship, so that they can graduate debt free. When it comes to scholarships, there is no question that full rides are the most sought-after. This is because full-ride scholarships cover full tuition for students. You can find a detailed guide that shares what full-ride scholarships are and how they work here.

Once you understand what a full-ride scholarship is, it's time to look at the next, more difficult step: actually getting a full ride. Although it is incredibly competitive, if you wan to get a full ride scholarship, there are several measure you can take to increase your chances. So how exactly do you get a full-ride scholarship? Below is a step-by-step guide with tips for students seeking out full-ride scholarships.

Step 1: Excel in your specialty

Full-ride scholarships are given for different reasons. The main categories of full-ride scholarships are those for academics, athletics, or leadership. There are other scholarships available from the government or for different reasons, all of which are explained in this overview of full-ride scholarships.

In order to have a chance at getting a full-ride scholarship, you must know what it is that you excel at. Figure out what your specialty is - whether that be academic excellence, athletic ability, or leadership skills - and work to be the best you can possibly be in that area. Full tuition scholarships are given to students who demonstrate exceptional abilities.

Students seeking a full-ride academic scholarship are encouraged to work hard and demonstrate academic excellence. This means getting excellent grades, doing well on standardized tests, and showing aptitude for growth in the classroom. Extracurriculars like community service or internships that are related to your field of interest are also incredibly important. For more information on getting an academic scholarship, visit this post about how to get an academic scholarship.

For those who desire an athletic full tuition scholarship, they must be successful in their sport, attracting the attention of college recruiters. Some D1 college sports give full-ride scholarships, depending on the sport. For more information on what full-ride scholarships you can get through D1 sports, visit this overview of D1 scholarships.

Students who demonstrate exceptional leadership skills are also in the running for full-ride scholarships, especially if they have been involved in both academic as well as extracurricular leadership experiences. Participation in community service is also highly encouraged.

No matter what type of full tuition scholarship you are working to earn, remember the importance of creating a specialty for yourself and becoming excellent in that area. Strive for more than mediocrity, and show how you stand apart in your work.

Step 2: Challenge yourself

One important thing that scholarship committees look for is whether or not the student has put themselves in situations that have pushed their abilities. This drive looks different for different students. In academics, it means taking harder, more advanced classes. Students are more likely to be considered if they got a slightly lower grade in a harder class than if they got a perfect grade in an easy class. For athletes, push your abilities by seeking out more advanced teams and other opportunities to better your abilities outside of the team practice setting.

It is much easier to succeed when in your comfort than in challenging scenarios. But students who put themselves out there and risk failure are more likely to excel in college, where success isn't guaranteed. The more you work to push yourself, the more opportunities you will have to grow.

Step 3: Be involved

In step 1, the importance of finding your specialty and perfecting it was discussed. However, the work doesn't stop there. Students are encouraged to be well-rounded during school. You may be working to earn an academic scholarship, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't involve yourself in other aspects of school.

Find ways to be involved in extracurriculars associated with your school as well as in the community. Students who are awarded full-ride scholarships are the ones who don't limit themselves to one goal but instead work to be successful in several areas of their school experience.

Participating in extracurriculars can also your leadership abilities can thus help you get a full ride scholarship. Becoming the president of a club, student government, or doing an internship can all increase your chances of getting a full ride scholarship, especially if the activities are relevant to your area of interest.

Step 4: Build relationships

When choosing a winner for a full-ride scholarship, a committee doesn't just look at the student's application and school, athletic, or leadership success. In order to understand a student better, many applications must include letters of recommendation or various references. In order to cultivate good references, students must put an emphasis on making connections with their teachers and coaches. This can be done in simple ways such as reaching out for extra help outside of a group setting or by being kind and building a personal relationship.

Students who make an impression on mentors, teachers, classmates, counselors, and recruiters are more likely to be remembered when it comes time to award full-ride scholarships. These personal relationships also help when it comes time for getting a letter of recommendation.

In general, students shouldn't make connections with people for the wrong reasons. When building relationships, look at the bigger picture. Think about what you can learn from others and how you can make your school experience richer by having personal connections with those around you. If you work hard to put yourself out there and build relationships, the benefits of scholarship opportunities will come as a bonus.

Step 5: Find what makes you original

Many students apply for full-ride scholarships. The scholarship committee reviews many applications, and in order to stand out, it's important to find what makes you original. How are you unique from the other applicants applying? What can you contribute to your school that is different from others? Think of how you are unique and use that as a way to express yourself in your application.

With that being said, make sure that you don't tear down other applicants, saying something like "none of them are deserving of this scholarship," because that isn't necessarily true. Find what's special about you instead of what isn't special about others. Schools offer full-ride scholarships to incoming college students who stand out and have good attitudes, so make sure to focus on yourself and remain humble.

Step 6: Make your application exceptional

Many of these steps include tips to help with your scholarship application. When it comes time to apply for the full-ride scholarship you want, take all of these factors into account, and put your all into the application you submit. Don't submit your first draft of an essay, and don't wait until the last minute.

Think ahead and prepare so that your application is a good representation of you. A great application has the potential to show the committee not only your skills in school, athletics, etc. but also to show the kind of person you are and why you are deserving of a full tuition scholarship.

What is a good GPA for a full-ride scholarship?

While grades are certainly important when applying for full-ride scholarships, getting the highest grade possible won't guarantee you full tuition. Some full-ride scholarships have a minimum GPA required to apply, which is important to pay attention to. At the same time, however, the GPA is only one aspect of your application.

You can have a 4.0 GPA and not get a full-ride scholarship. This is because committees in charge of choosing a scholarship winner look at more than grades. They want to see that you are involved in other activities, that you have a good character, and that you have the ability to succeed in different settings. Usually, full-ride scholarships will have a minimum GPA requirement that varies depending on the scholarship.

Focus on meeting the GPA requirement without obsessing over a number. Your work ethic, involvement, and unique skills will set your application apart far more than just your GPA. In effect, although committees for full ride scholarships may be interested in your grade point average, it is far from the only thing they focus on. Things like sports, clubs, internships, and community service can really set you apart. So, even if you don't have a 4.0, you still have a chance of getting the full ride scholarship you need to attend college.

Frequently asked questions about full-ride scholarships

Students are eager to find full-ride scholarships that pay for all college expenses and student fees, but when it comes to actually getting a full-ride scholarship, not many students have a thorough understanding of what they are, how they work, and generally how to get a full-ride scholarship. Below are some common questions regarding full ride scholarships that may help clear up the confusion.

How hard is it to get a full scholarship?

Given how helpful full-ride scholarships are when it comes to paying for college expenses, it is no wonder that they are so competitive. Very few students will actually receive full tuition scholarships. Since the competition is so high, it is hit or miss about whether or not students will win.

However, while a full-ride scholarship covers all college expenses, other partial scholarships are available for college students to avoid student debt. Full ride scholarships are not the only option available to you, so if you don't get a full ride, keep in mind that there are still other opportunities.

What is the easiest scholarship to get?

Full-ride scholarships are some of the hardest scholarships to get. As for easy scholarships, some scholarship applications may be easy to apply for, taking only a few clicks, but they aren't necessarily the easiest to win. Remember that the more you put into it, the more you get out of it, so if you only apply for scholarships that take seconds, you have a lower chance of winning.

Find more specific scholarships with broader scholarship requirements, because while others may be easier to apply for, the easiest scholarships to win are the ones that have more eligibility requirements. More requirements mean that fewer students will be eligible to apply, giving you a better chance of winning.