With billions of dollars in scholarships all across the US, finding the right ones to apply for can often be tedious and overwhelming. To make things a bit easier, here are some tips when it comes to applying for outside scholarships:
- Start Early and Stay Organized – Most students only start looking for scholarships during the end of their senior year, yet any high school student can apply for most scholarships. Though starting freshman year might be a little too early, looking around during junior year would put you in an ideal situation. Remember that each scholarship has its own set of guidelines and deadlines, so it is important to be aware of each one’s.
- Use the Internet – There are several scholarship databases on the web that list the thousands of different scholarships out there – make sure to use them! This is by far your most valuable resource because most applications will be online. Use finaid.org or fastweb.com to find a scholarship that matches your profile.
- Don’t Be Too General on the Scholarship Profile Survey – This is by far the biggest misconception when it comes to scholarships. Students think that if they fill out the profile survey very broadly and not actually specific to them, then they will be eligible for more scholarships…and they’re EXACTLY right. The first day you’ll receive 30 scholarships in your email and get through about 10 before you get bored and stop. And then the next day you’ll get another 30. And the next day another 30. Before you know it, you’re hitting the unsubscribe button because you can’t handle so much spam in your mailbox. Filling out the profile survey specific to who you are might only give you 3-4 emails a week – a much more manageable number.
- Check For Local Scholarships – This is often the best place to find scholarships. Local scholarships in your area are often much less competitive because you’re not competing with the nation, but rather just the kids in your school or the city.
- Don’t Just Copy and Paste Your College Application Essay – Judges who read your scholarship essays will be able to tell in a second whether or not you just pasted a college essay because the essay you pasted “sort of” answered the prompt at hand. Instead, use your college essay as a template and modify it accordingly to what the question specifically asks of you.
Follow the Instructions VERY Carefully – A scholarship judge once told me that they asked their applicants to fill out all of their forms in blue ink. While this seemed slightly trivial at the time, any application they received in any color but blue, even black, was instantly tossed into the trash. Why? The judges didn’t really care as to what color the ink actually was; all they cared about was whether the applicant could follow directions properly and pay attention to detail.