Scholarships are presents of free money given to students who excel academically, athletically, or artistically. Colleges and universities, as well as private firms and other organizations, can provide them. However, the competition for this free money is fierce.
Students must not only have great grades and ACT or SAT scores, but they must also persuade the benefactors that they are deserving of a scholarship. To put it another way, they must distinguish themselves from others in ways other than grades and test results.
Here are some pointers on how to choose the correct scholarship, how to complete the application process, how to improve your chances of getting chosen, and how to avoid common pitfalls.
- Plan ahead of time. It takes time to look for and apply for scholarships. Don’t leave it till the last possible moment.
- Make sure you’re ready for deadlines. There are application deadlines. In addition, there are frequent requirements for prerequisite courses or other activities in order to apply.
When Should You Begin?
- Don’t wait until your senior year to apply; this is a surefire way to miss out.
- The sophomore or junior year of high school is the greatest time to start thinking and planning ahead.
What Should I Do First?
- Know what type of scholarship you’re looking for; this will help you narrow down your options.
- There are academic, athletic, and artistic scholarships available; determine which one is best for you.
- General scholarships – competition for scholarships offered to all students will be fiercer.
- Subject-specific scholarships – scholarships for specific fields of study, such as accounting, math, medical, and law, will help you narrow the field and should be considered in your search.
Resources for High School Students
- Advisors are great resources for finding out where to start looking for scholarships.
- Colleges that grant scholarships send information to guidance offices on a regular basis.
- Career counselors in high schools are aware of the application procedure and other prerequisites and may help you navigate this seemingly daunting undertaking.
- Your high school may be able to connect you with other funding opportunities. They are aware of where to look.
- Seek out local businesses and organizations that are known for providing free scholarships.
- Start with the businesses where your parents are employed. Many businesses provide scholarships to their employees’ children.
- Contact local chapters of national groups including the American Legion, Boy Scouts of America, Police and Firefighters Association, National Guard, NAACP, Knights of Columbus, Jaycees, Rotary, Lions, VFW, and Elks for further information.
Resources from the federal government
- Depending on financial need, college costs, and the student’s capacity to pay, the Pell Grant can be worth up to $5,550. The Pell Grant, like scholarships, does not require repayment.
- Students with extreme financial need can receive both the Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), which can pay an additional $100 to $4,000 per year and is not repaid. Visit www.studentaid.ed.gov for further information.
Resources from the State Government
- Visit the websites of state governments. States frequently provide financial aid in the form of grants and scholarships.
- State merit scholarships are frequently provided for kids who have excelled academically.
- Minority scholarships are available in most states.
- State governments frequently award scholarships to students pursuing careers in industries where there is a labor shortage, such as teaching, nursing, technology, math, or science.
- Each state has its own set of financial assistance standards. Determine what you could be eligible for and look for further information on the state government’s website.
- Visit www.ed.gov for a complete list of state-specific scholarships.
Resources for Local Government
- The amount of money available for college scholarships at the local government level is extremely low.
- Look for scholarship information on your city government’s website or phone the mayor’s office or the local chamber of commerce.
Resources for the Company
- Scholarship money can be found in large Fortune 500 companies. They can help students pay for college because they have a lot of money.
- Wal-Mart, AT&T, Ford, General Motors, United Health, State Farm, Microsoft, Dell, Lowe’s, and Best Buy are among the top ten companies.
- Check out Coca-Cola and Pepsi, as well as pharmaceutical corporations like Pfizer, banks like Chase, and fast-food restaurants like KFC.
- Go to www.collegescholarships.org and search by state or type of scholarship.
- Make a list of smaller local businesses that have a history of providing scholarships to local residents.
Resources on the Internet
- Scholarship research has become considerably easier and faster because of the Internet. Searching for keywords will yield a plethora of information. You can search by state or subject.
- Search free internet databases such as the College Board’s Scholarship Search, Fastweb, collegenet.com, and Peterson’s College Search for hundreds of scholarships.
- Don’t forget to ask for scholarship advice on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Books for Scholarships
- One of the most popular books on available scholarships is the Scholarship Handbook, which may be ordered from the College Board’s website. It has around 2000 scholarship, loan, and internship opportunities.
- Amazon has a number of books about scholarships that range in price from $10 to $20. Get Free College Money, College Financial Aid for Dummies, and The College Scholarship Handbook are among them.
- These and other books may be found at your local library or high school guidance office.
- The quantity of eBooks has also grown, making it easier for students to conduct research at home. It also guarantees that students are getting the most up-to-date information possible.
- Scholarships from national sources should also be investigated. Scholarships in this category are usually intended to encourage students to pursue specific fields of study.
- The National Health Service Corps scholarship (NHCS) is given to students who want to work in the medical area.
- All students are eligible for the National Merit Scholarship program. Students who take the Pre-SAT (PSAT) test in high school will be nominated to become Semifinalists and eventually Finalists based on their scores. They can attend any college or pursue any job path they want.
Prepare a Resource List
- Make a spreadsheet with a list of scholarships organized by category. Names, addresses, phone numbers, and website connections should all be included. The goal at this point is to compile a list of alternatives that includes 50-100 prospective resources.
- Initially, you’ll want to have a lot of resources to work with. The list may be purged to best suit your needs once you start examining and comparing criteria.
Keep track of scholarship deadlines and information.
- When it comes to applying for scholarships, missing deadlines is just not an option. Keep track of critical deadlines in your spreadsheet, such as when the application must be submitted.
- Include information on the application process, the scholarship amount, and how and where to apply.
- Keeping this information in a spreadsheet will help you keep organized and on time by allowing you to search by criteria such as deadline date.
Recognize the Application Requirements
- Be ready to submit an essay, ACT or SAT scores, high school transcript, class rank and GPA, and up to three letters of recommendation.
- You may be required to submit a resume, a written exam to assess your talents, a project to complete to demonstrate your competence, financial details, and evidence of citizenship in the United States.
- Carefully read and follow all instructions. If you provide incorrect information or miss the deadline, you will be disqualified and your chances of receiving a scholarship will be lost.
- Include a cover letter with your application unless the criteria clearly state otherwise.
- Begin the letter with Dear Committee Members and address it to the Scholarship Committee.
- Describe how the scholarship will benefit you in a few words.
- Thank them for taking the time to consider you for the scholarship.
- Your CV should be professional and include information relevant to the scholarship’s aim.
- Begin with a statement regarding your college major and job objectives.
- Make a list of any distinctions or prizes you’ve received.
- Include activities from high school and the community, as well as employment experience. Be as precise as possible.
- At the bottom, include personal interests, particularly those relevant to the scholarship.
- Pay attention to the instructions and follow them. When it comes to apps, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution.
- Be aware of the submission method (mail or electronic), the materials that must be included, and the deadline.
- If the postal submission is required, use certified mail to ensure that your materials reach you on time.
- If electronic submission is required, double-check the number of files and file sizes allowed, as well as the type, such as Word, PDF, or text documents.
Applying for a Scholarship and Completing the Application
- The most important thing to remember is to thoroughly read the application and follow all of the directions.
- Pay great attention to essay questions and respond fully and completely. If you don’t answer all of the questions, your application may be rejected.
- Determine the number of letters of recommendation you will require. Is it necessary to send a cover letter? Are you in need of a resume?
- Don’t rush the application procedure and work in a calm, distraction-free environment. This will keep your mind concentrated and clear. Prepare a persuasive essay explaining why you are a great candidate for the scholarship.
- Give yourself plenty of time to proofread. There isn’t any margin for error.
Errors to Avoid When Filling Out an Application
- Common faults in scholarship applications include missing the deadline, not following instructions, deleting relevant papers, omitting a question, and having spelling and grammar issues. Consider the application procedure to be similar to applying for a job. You want to make a good first impression. To show yourself as the best prospect, pay close attention to every detail.
How to Write an Essay for a Scholarship
- Examine the scholarship’s purpose. Learn about the history of the college or organization that is offering the award. The purpose and goals of your essay should be in line with theirs.
- Choose one or two examples of your achievements and include specifics that will help readers understand who you are. Tell them about your experience working to construct homes for Habitat for Humanity if you’re applying for a social services scholarship, for example. Other experiences and accomplishments can be listed on your CV, but to tell an engaging tale, focus on your significant achievements.
Avoid These Mistakes When Writing a Scholarship Essay
- Keep your thoughts in order and avoid wandering or talking in circles. Choose a subject that corresponds to the scholarship’s goal. Make a list of crucial data to add to your outline initially.
- Don’t speed through the essay. Take the time to develop a compelling introduction, engaging content, and a strong conclusion that explains what you learned from this event and how it will benefit your career.
- Come up with a catchy title that not only tells your narrative but also relates to the scholarship’s goal.
- Because the essay must sound professional, appropriate language, spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure are required. Slang should be avoided. In the spirit of clear communication with your audience, call things as they are.
Solicit feedback on your essay from others.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread before sending anything. This includes not only utilizing spell check but also having your manuscript checked for language, punctuation, flow, and how effectively it answers essay questions by professors, counselors, and friends.
- Make as many drafts as you need to get your best work. The essay should clearly state what you have accomplished and why you are a great candidate for the award. There is no space for mistakes, and you only get one chance to do it well, so take your time. You will be recognized for your efforts.
Letters of Recommendation
- Letters of recommendation are intended to bolster your application by highlighting your qualifications. They’re effective because they provide a testimonial from someone who has had firsthand experience and contact with you.
- Letters of recommendation should be written by people who have a professional relationship with you. This might include teachers who know what kind of student you are, career counselors who have helped you map out your career path, current or former bosses, and people with whom you have volunteered.
- Do not inquire about relatives. Family members are incapable of being objective, and these sources will be dismissed.
- Use letterhead from the company. It not only appears professional, but it also provides crucial contact information for the scholarship committee in case they have any queries.
- Enlist the assistance of a diverse group of writers. Counselors, instructors, and past supervisors will emphasize different skills and give the scholarship committee a more comprehensive picture of you.
- Encourage the writers to be as descriptive as possible. They must explain exactly what you did, what abilities you displayed, and how this qualifies you for the award.
- Allow lots of time for the writers. Allow four weeks, or more if required, and make sure they are aware of the deadline.
- As a token of your gratitude, send each writer a polite thank you message. Make a promise to keep them updated on your progress.
A Competitive Approach to Scholarship Searching
- Develop a strategy that includes looking for general scholarships open to all students, as well as subject-specific scholarships and minority-specific awards.
- Don’t go for the large bucks just for the sake of it. The larger the scholarship, the more competition and the more difficult it will be to win. Don’t overlook minor scholarships because they can build up more money for school
Following Up After You’ve Applied
- Following up after delivering your application materials to ensure they were received is usually a smart idea. Things might go wrong in the mail, and electronic submissions aren’t without their flaws. So, make sure you call or email to confirm that it came.
- Send application materials well enough ahead of time to allow for a second submission if necessary, so you don’t miss the deadline. You can also inquire about when the winners will be announced when you call
After receiving a scholarship award, write a thank you note.
- A thank you letter should be addressed to the benefactor as soon as possible after getting word of a scholarship award. There will be no emails or phone calls. This should be written on excellent stationery in a handwritten note.
- Proofread numerous times to ensure that spelling, grammar, and punctuation are correct. Apply the same level of attention to detail that you did when you applied for the scholarship.
- Address the letter to the president of the highest-ranking official, such as the executive director. Explain why the scholarship is important to you and how it will help you. Then thank them once again.
How to Renew Your Scholarships
- Before applying for a scholarship, read the renewal clauses to be sure you’ll be able to complete the requirements. If you don’t see or understand a clause, contact the college financial aid office for assistance.
- Academic scholarships will require students to maintain a certain grade point average. If they do not meet the requirements, they may lose their scholarship.
- Some scholarships will renew automatically if all requirements are completed, while others may require students to reapply.
- Subject-specific scholarships do not allow students to change majors without forfeiting their scholarship funds. Scholarships from a specific college or university would require a student to stay at that school in order to get the funds.
- Athletic scholarships necessitate participation in the sport. Make sure you’re aware of the ramifications of missing a game due to injury or poor academic performance.
Beware of Scholarship Scams
- Genuine scholarships never need payment, credit card details, or a guarantee of a scholarship. Be wary of companies who charge for their databases and offer to finish your application, essays, and letters of reference for a cost.
- It’s fraud if a corporation contacts you and tells you that you’ve received a scholarship for which you never applied. It’s probably a fraud if the company doesn’t have a website or a phone number where you may reach them. Legitimate organizations will almost certainly have a history of donating and press releases referring to previous scholarships awarded on their website.
What is the value of a scholarship?
- The majority of scholarships cover tuition and fees. A full scholarship will cover the majority of your costs, including tuition, lodging, board, and books, and some even include a stipend for living expenses.
- Lab costs, course supplies, and exemptions on the application fee are examples of other scholarship expenses that can be paid. Before applying for a scholarship, make sure you read the information carefully to understand what is involved.
What is the Maximum Number of Scholarships Permitted?
- Scholarship money is one component of a financial aid package that may include grants as well. There is no limit to how many scholarships you can earn as long as the scholarship money does not surpass the entire cost of your educational costs.