When I look at the common characteristics of scholarship students, one feature tends to permeate their profiles: responsibility. These are the types of students who don’t wait around “hoping” for something to happen academically, personally, professionally ... or financially. They take charge of their educational journey, including their quest for scholarships.

What can you learn from these students? Below are three suggestions that could help you become a better scholarship-seeking student:

  • Be attentive to your communication and communication style. Communication can be written, verbal, non-verbal, implied, explicit and so much more. Successful students do not leave communication to chance and they are thoughtful in how and when — and in tone and method — they communicate to the people around them. They are clear in their communication, whether it’s requesting a letter of recommendation or seeking advice on course selection. They keep copies of important papers and documents, and take time to craft just the right essay, thank you letter or application. They care about communication and how it reflects upon them.

  • Be entrepreneurial. Students who treat the scholarship process with the enthusiasm and drive of an entrepreneur have an edge over their competition. They search for one more hour, complete one more application, proofread one more time, and ask for one more letter of recommendation than their competition. They realize that their extra effort just might pay off. While they probably have a team of supporters, they don’t rely exclusively on other people, and they take ownership of the scholarship search process. Basically, they treat it with a business mindset.

  • Be timely. The scholarship process favors people who pay attention to deadlines and plan ahead. As a person who has written several letters of recommendation, it’s frustrating to me if a staff member, former intern or scholarship candidate asks for a letter of recommendation two days before it’s due. I don’t have the spare time to do a good job, and that short timeline causes stress that could have been avoided with better planning. Students who consistently meet deadlines and schedule the time leading up to deadlines will be able to take full advantage of potential opportunities as they arise. They won’t be stressed out and rushing around at the last minute, which could lead to mistakes and missed opportunities.

  • Assess yourself. Are you an effective communicator, with an entrepreneurial spirit, who meets deadlines? Which of these successful traits do you already possess? Which ones could you work on to become the best possible scholarship candidate?

  • Read the other articles provided by University of Phoenix to help you improve your own scholarship search and application strategies. Good luck!