Searching for scholarships can feel like a daunting and time-consuming task. It is often difficult to find scholarships you feel you have a chance of receiving. Moreover, you may believe that you only have the small timeframe before starting college to apply.
This is simply not true. Believe it or not, finding and being selected for scholarships is not as impossible as it feels. In fact, we are here to bust common myths and half-truths to help you find this scholarship search more manageable.
Also Read: How to Write the Best College Essay
With no further ado, here are eight things you need to know about scholarships.
1. Take time to craft a scholarship strategy.
It is tempting to dive right into the scholarship search. However, there are thousands upon thousands of scholarships out there. To ensure you have the best chance at lowering your college expenses, take the extra time in the beginning to create a strategy towards searching for scholarships.
Seriously, this will reduce the time it takes for you to find scholarships as well as increase your chance of receiving money. It also has the added benefit of being less stressful.
Tip: Craft a scholarship resume with all your talents, skills, volunteer and/or work experience, leadership experience and accomplishments. Having a master scholarship resume will come in handy when you are applying to a specific scholarship. It will also remind you of all your qualifications and narrow down your search to specific qualities or circumstances.
2. Search for scholarships with a team of helpers.
Your scholarship search team should consist of parents, mentors, educators, and anyone else who may have access to special scholarships based off of membership in associations or companies. While searching with just your parents may seem like enough, remember that your career counselor as well as teachers have guided their students through this process a plethora of times. They will definitely have insight that you or your parents may have missed.
Tip: Take advantage of your scholarship team’s associations to apply to local scholarships. These scholarships offered by near-by organizations and/or companies are targeted towards your local community. This means that there is a lot less competition and a higher likelihood you will receive the scholarship.
3. Write a winning scholarship essay by showcasing your abilities through examples.
The scholarship panel of judges is always looking for a student who shows exemplary leadership skills. This means you need to narrate a leadership experience that emphasizes your positive impact and maturity. It must also, obviously, fit the prompt.
Also Read: How the Application Panel Reads Your Essay
It can be hard to write about yourself in a manner that feels a little boastful. However, you can avoid that feeling by being honest about the experience. Focus on how this particular experience influences your actions today.
Tip: Scholarship judges love applicants who show thoughtful introspection in their writing. Before you start writing about this experience, try to note down why this experience is so important to you. It will help you frame your essay properly.
4. Reuse your scholarship applications to make the scholarship search process faster!
Like we mentioned before, almost all the organizations are looking for the same thing. That is, students with leadership abilities who are conscientious of the world around them.
This means a couple of things. It is likely that the scholarship essay prompts for multiple scholarships are similar if not completely the same. With some minor tweaks and adjustments, it should be easy to repurpose the same couple of scholarship application essays for different scholarships.
Moreover, these organizations will likely ask for the same information on your application. Use your master scholarship resume to create organization specific documents filled with your relevant experience, talents, and accomplishments. A couple copy-and-pastes should do the trick!
5. Research the organizations offering the scholarship you are applying to.
Align your scholarship application and essay to reflect the organization’s core values. If you are applying for a scholarship from a private organization, this is a must!
Oftentimes, just adding a few keywords to your existing scholarship essay can help you frame your essay towards the organization. It also explicitly shows the scholarship panel that you care about the same values they do!
Tip: An easy way to identify an organization’s core values is to look at their mission statement and activities they pursue to better their community. A little extra knowledge about their organization can really help your application stand out!
6. Ask for letters of recommendation at least two months before the deadline!
This is another place where your master scholarship resume comes in handy. By providing your recommenders a resource to draw from, you are influencing their thoughts towards the characteristics you want to exhibit.
You need to give your recommenders plenty of time to craft a strong letter of recommendation. Choose who you would like to write your letters of recommendation wisely!
Tip: It always works to have one letter come from your academic life and the other come from your extracurriculars.
7. Don’t forget about social media.
There are a lot of easy scholarships you can apply to through social media. Do not let those pass you by! Many organizations also release scholarship information through their social media accounts
Follow the relevant tags on your preferred social platform and watch the numbers of scholarships appear on your feed.
8. Application season for scholarships is all year long!
Even if you are not awarded scholarship money in your first couple of attempts, remember that there really is no time limit. Many students stop searching for scholarships once their college careers begin.
However, a great number of scholarships are awarded to current college students. Do not miss out on free money towards your college education! Anything that can lower the cost of your degree is worth applying to!
Tip: Although colleges have set deadlines for applying for scholarships, most private organizations and companies do not. It is likely you will be able to find scholarships that aim towards students like you throughout the year. Try to keep a lookout always!