10 Tips For A Winning Scholarship Application

By Molly Martin

Every year, Women in Aviation International (WAI) makes more than 100 scholarships available that in total, are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The scholarships are available for multiple aviation and aerospace disciplines, for different ages, different stages of careers and life, and many are available to applicants all over the world.

In the last 30 years, WAI has awarded more than $14.5 million in scholarships. Thousands of WAI members have realized aviation dreams or furthered their aviation or aerospace career after winning a WAI scholarship.

The process is simple: Select up to three scholarships to apply for and submit the required application materials. But past scholarship winners will tell you that it pays to put your best foot forward, pay attention to details, and deliver an application package that truly sets you apart. We’ve compiled a Top Ten list of tips to help you get started:

1—Be a Women in Aviation International member! WAI scholarships are available for many different areas of aviation and aerospace. You don’t have to be a pilot, an engineer, a student, or hold advanced degrees—but you do need to be a member of Women in Aviation International by October 1, 2022, to qualify for each scholarship.

2—Follow the rules and pay attention to details. Be sure to read the requirements for each scholarship, as they are all a little bit different. Remember that if you don’t follow the rules for each scholarship, you could be disqualified.

  • Do the requirements call for two one-page letters of recommendation? If so, send two letters. No more. No less.
  • Does the scholarship you’re applying for require a transcript from your school? Does it need to be certified? Be sure if they need to be certified, they are.
  • Does the essay need to be 500 words or less? Remember the team reviewing the scholarship applications is considering dozens and dozens of applications. If your essay doesn’t meet the exact requirements you will be disqualified.
  • Type all elements of your application, including your essay.
  • If the scholarship requirements call for it, be sure to include clear copies of your government licenses, ratings, logbooks, and other required materials.

3—Spend time on your essay and tell your unique story.

  • Be passionate and communicate about who you are, and why you are the best candidate for the job.
  • Don’t submit a generic, one-size-fits-all application.
  • This is your opportunity to speak to the scholarship committee. Help them get to know YOU, and help them feel your passion and enthusiasm.

4—Tell the truth. Don’t stretch the truth; don’t get creative with the truth. No exaggerations. Period.

5—Complete the application process in full.

  • Answer all the questions––don’t leave anything blank!
  • Provide all the requested information and supporting documents. If you forget to include a required document, you could be disqualified from that scholarship entirely.
  • Include all the required documents and materials with your submission.

6—Don’t miss the deadline––consider submitting your complete application early.

  • The deadline for all WAI scholarships is October 12, 2022. That means that your submission MUST be submitted online no later than October 12, 2022.
  • You will be notified via email that your application has been received.

7—Speak directly to the scholarship for which you are applying.

  • There are 113 scholarships available—read the qualifications of each one carefully and apply for the scholarships for which you are best qualified. Remember that you can only apply for three WAI scholarships per year.
  • Don’t send the same application, letters, and essay for all the scholarships you are applying for—remember that a successful application will appeal directly to the intent, subject, and requirements of that specific scholarship.

8—Start early!

  • It takes time for people to write meaningful letters of recommendation and get them back to you. Allow your chosen writer enough time to complete the letter. Get multiple letters of recommendations, and submit the two that best represents you.
  • It takes time for college transcripts to be processed and sent to you. Refrain from waiting until the last minute to make the request for your official transcripts.
  • It will definitely take time to gather certificates and make copies—give yourself plenty of time.
  • It should take time for you to write a winning essay. So, start early!

9—Don’t send additional stuff. The scholarship committee works hard to give each application equal attention and equal weight. Don’t ruin your chances of winning by including photos, videos, or portfolios that aren’t requested.

10—Proofread your application before submitting.

  • Ask someone else to review the requirements, and be sure your application is complete. Also ask them to read your essay and submission. Check for typos, errors, and proper grammar.

Following these tips won’t guarantee that you’ll win, but you will be more likely to be fully considered, and will avoid being disqualified. WAI is also here to help! Don’t hesitate to email Scholarship Coordinator Donna Wallace (dwallace@wai.org) and ask for clarification if there is something you are unsure of.

Remember, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Give yourself a shot this year and apply for a scholarship—see what doors it opens for you and where it can take you. 

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Benefits of a WAI Membership

WAI members seek to inspire and stand for encouragement, continued education, and a whole lot of fun! If you’re a lover of all things aviation and aerospace, and enjoy sharing your passion with others, we’d love to have you! Membership includes job search opportunities, scholarship opportunities, access to mentors in your industry, and much more.

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