Tips For An Effective Scholarship Search
Congratulations! You have been accepted to college and are on the brink of starting the most exciting chapter of your life. You will experience freedom, independence and intellectual growth all while right on the cusp of adulthood. While visions of late night pizza parties, long study sessions in the library and camaraderie within your dorm may be dancing in your head, you must first deal with the reality of your journey to a college degree.
Of course, this begins with the question of how to pay for college. As exhilarating as a college stint may be, practical matters must be taken care of so you can attend school without a fiscal burden in the back of your mind.
The first key to an effective college scholarship search is to start immediately. Some of the scholarships that you’ll qualify for may take some time to process and you want to start sooner rather than later. Whether you’re looking for a scholarship that’s tied to a particular school, an individual major, a religious affiliation or an obscure medical condition, there’s likely to be huge competition for those scholarship dollars. Getting your foot in the door early will definitely provide you with an advantage.
Remember that you won’t be awarded every single scholarship you apply for, so you must cast a wide net. Generally speaking, for every 100 scholarships that you may pique your interest, you will only qualify and apply for 10. Of these, you will be lucky if you’re awarded one college scholarship. It’s definitely a numbers game, and some serious time must be devoted to this endeavor. Most students will piece together several scholarships and grants to fund their education, so don’t stop at the first two or three scholarship applications.
Next, you should really think outside the box when it comes to your scholarship search. Consider your family, lifestyle, interests, hobbies, medical status, religion, college major and more when looking for potential scholarship activities. Your parent was in the Vietnam War? There is a scholarship for that. Diagnosed with diabetes in middle school? Yes, a college scholarship for that as well. The first in your family to attend college? They have scholarship opportunities for that too. Really take time to brainstorm, and consider asking for your parents’ input. You family background can qualify you for a plethora of college scholarships.
You should also look for scholarships that speak to your career goals and/or your major. This is particularly true if you plan to use your college level education to enter an underserved field or in an unusual manner. A few examples are a horticulture major that plans to study daylillies, an education major who would like to teach middle school social studies and a psychology major who intends to research suicide trends. Many professional organizations will have scholarship opportunities as well, such as the Delta Zeta Sorority or the National Organization of Italian-American Women.
Don’t overlook non-online college scholarship opportunities. Look in your own community and ask around to see who is providing college tuition assistance in your area. This may include your father’s employer, the factory you worked at one summer or the local chamber of commerce. You can, in fact, be your very own scholarship tracker.