Applying to college is challenging, but applying for scholarships can be even more challenging! For many students, affording college is difficult and applying for scholarships is a must.
We know that the thought of applying for scholarships can be daunting, so we want to share five tips to help you get started. So where should you begin?
1. Start your scholarship search in your high school guidance counselor’s office.
A good place to start your scholarship search is in your high school counseling office. Many counseling offices provide good resources on how to apply for scholarships, as well as which local scholarships you may be eligible for. Also, get to know your counselor. If your counselor knows your interests, he or she may be better able to direct you to appropriate scholarships.
2. Focus on what makes you unique.
Don’t be afraid to be edgy or vulnerable when you write your applications. In fact, be intentionally candid. A good personal essay makes a connection between the author and the reader, rather than keeping the reader at arm’s length. Your writing should be professional and grammatically correct, and always ask someone to proofread it for you!
3. Look everywhere for scholarships large or small!
There is a good chance that your community provides some type of scholarships for local students. Google ‘philanthropic foundation, [your city]’ and you just might discover that your local bank gives away $10,000 in scholarships to local students every year! While huge corporations like Pepsi and Target are known for giving away hundreds of thousands of dollars in college scholarships every year, their scholarships are incredibly competitive and the chance of winning one is slim. Remember — small scholarships add up. When applying, $500 here and $1,000 there can really help in the long run!
4. Be wary — you can’t trust everyone during your scholarship search.
If you see a scholarship search site that costs money, avoid it at all costs — it’s a scam. Another good way to know if a scholarship website is a scam is if it promises you money “no matter what.” In case you haven’t learned this life lesson yet — if something sounds too good to be true, chances are it is. If you seem to be running into a lot of scam scholarships, don’t lose heart! There are countless legitimate scholarships out there, but sometimes the good ones just require a little more searching.
5. Talk to your parents’ employers.
Ask your parents if their employers offer college scholarships. If they’re unsure, have them talk to their HR department. Does one of your parents work for the government? The Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund is an excellent merit-based scholarship competition that is open to all students whose parents are federally employed.
Finally, stay motivated! This process can be challenging and it is definitely time-consuming. We’d be lying to you if we said applying to scholarships is a piece of cake, but by doing the right research and planning ahead, you can efficiently and successfully complete great scholarship applications — and hopefully win some, too!