Preparing for college seems like a never-ending process. There’s the constant pressure to keep your grades up and participate in extracurricular, leadership activities, and that’s all before you even start choosing schools and searching for scholarships. It can be a difficult process, but securing enough funding can make or break your college experience.

There are billions of dollars in scholarships available, and you should start the research process early to find the ones that apply to you. There are, for example, a range of Christian scholarships and grants available to students of a particular denomination as well as other opportunities that apply to anyone who is a Christian regardless of their specific affiliation.

The application process for Christian scholarships is a lot like any other scholarship application, with a few exceptions. While it will be important to highlight your scholastic career and your scores on the SAT or ACT, there are a few more things that the organizations that award these scholarships expect to see. You should, for example:

  • Carefully read about the scholarship’s goals/mission – This is a good rule for any kind of scholarship, but you need to tailor your application and scholarship essay to address the specific goals of the organization. You need to present your case that you are the most deserving applicant, and you can’t do that unless you understand what they want to see.
  • Play to your strengths – While you should never brag about yourself, you should highlight your best qualities. In most traditional scholarship applications this means showing off your writing, critical thinking, and leadership abilities, but a Christian scholarship will require something more. You should show your dedication to your spiritual life and give examples that illustrate your intention to apply your education to living a faithful life, no matter what career you choose.
  • Be real – Along with highlighting your strengths, it’s important that you are completely real and straightforward about your intentions, motivations, and goals. When you craft your essay, you need to make it clear that you are looking for more than just money. An insincere attempt to gain favor with the scholarship committee, though, will just make you stand out in an unflattering light. These people want to know that you really are looking for more than just money – they want to know that you can use the money to enhance your spiritual and educational experience.

Whether you are applying for a Christian scholarship or one of the more traditional grants, it is extremely important that you start your preparations early. Do your research and find out what the scholarship organization wants to see. What do they support? Why would you be a good match for this program? How will this opportunity change your academic and spiritual life?

When you can answer all these questions, you will be in a better position to apply for these scholarships and get the finances you need for a great college experience.