Improve Your Odds of Securing College Scholarships
The great thing about college scholarships is that you’re not only able to receive free money for school, there is no limit to how many you can apply to. With just a handful of scholarships, a student can easily afford college and ease the financial burden on their parents. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about this process. Students must understand that it is not just about applying for scholarships—it is about winning them as well. Below are some helpful tips to make sure the odds are in your favor with each application.
Tip #1: Be Diligent in Your College Scholarship Search
With the Internet being so readily available, this is the best resource for students to utilize when it comes to finding college scholarships. There are entire websites devoted to publishing the most recent and up-to-date scholarships, which also come with links that will take you directly to the sponsor’s site. It is crucial to dedicate time to the search process. Just one or two hours of searching isn’t going to yield the best results. There are literally too many college scholarships than one can count. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, set aside an hour or so each day to searching for scholarships to apply to. Keep a list of the sites you’ve already visited and bookmark the ones that you want to go back and revisit later. Give it about a week or so and look over your results. From there, you can then narrow down the ones you’re interested in applying to.
Tip #2: Target Relevant Scholarships for College
While it’s great to be able to apply to as many college scholarships as you want, you’ll want to focus on quality over quantity. Once you have your list of scholarships from your research handy, begin a process of elimination. Only focus on those that you know you have a strong chance at winning. For example, if you have no athletic ability whatsoever, immediately remove any scholarships that are for student athletes. It’s better to target areas where you are naturally proficient instead of wasting time trying to meet the bare minimum for scholarships you don’t really meet the requirements for.
Jot down your strengths and areas of school where you excel most. What are your favorite subjects? Which classes do you always get an A+ in? Do you participate in any extracurricular activities that you’re especially fond of? What are your special interests or hobbies? The answers to these questions will help you distinguish certain college scholarships over others.
Tip #3: Don’t Overlook the Obvious Scholarships
Ethnic and religion-based scholarships exist for a reason so take advantage of such opportunities to win free money for college. Even the simplest online search will turn up pages of results, filled with sites that offer application information and eligibility requirements for ethnic and religion-based scholarships for college. Don’t forget to check out military aid as well. If you’re a dependent of a veteran or are an active member of the military, chances are there’s a handful of military-based scholarships you can apply to. Oftentimes, students focus only on the broader options and miss the ones they are natural shoe-ins for.
Tip #4: Read the Directions More Than Once
Because submitting a quality application is so important, it is a must for students to read and reread the instructions for filling out each scholarship application. Not only will you have to fill out each one correctly, you’ll need to include the proper documentation and paperwork. Depending on how many college scholarships you’re applying for, this can make for a very overwhelming and tedious process. It helps to organize each application package and make a checklist of what documentation is needed. Additionally, work on one application at a time. This will decrease the odds of making a mistake and/or including the wrong information and paperwork. Once you’re ready to start filling the applications out, dedicate a full day with no interruptions to this process.
Tip #5: Give Yourself Enough Time
“Rush” and “college scholarships” should never belong in the same sentence. Remember, a majority of scholarships require letters of recommendation, official transcript copies and an essay, among other paperwork. Trying to collect such material on short notice is not only stressful, it increases the odds of making an error. Give yourself enough of a time frame to properly request official transcripts from your school and seek out qualified individuals to write you a letter of recommendation. Businesses and academic professionals have their own schedules to deal with so you’ll have to be on their time. Trying to rush this process won’t yield favorable results.
Tip #6: Focus on the Almighty Personal Statement Essay
Nearly all scholarships for college require applicants to write an essay of some kind. If English and/or essay writing isn’t your natural forte, you’ll want to dedicate extra time to crafting the perfectly written paper. Reach out to a teacher and/or parent for assistance, if needed. Start with a rough draft and make sure you’ve answered the essay prompt clearly. Don’t forget to include solid examples to back up your statements, opinions and beliefs. After you’ve written your first draft, walk away from it for a day or two and then come back and review it with fresh eyes. Once you’ve got a solid draft to work with, have an English teacher go over it for feedback. You should never be the only person to review and edit your essay. In fact, the final version should be reviewed and critiqued by two or more people. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Your scholarships essay is your introduction to the sponsor and their first glimpse into who you are. Since you won’t be there in person, your essay has to be strong enough to showcase your personality in writing.
Tip #7: Make the Scholarships Deadline!
One of the biggest mistakes students make when dealing with college scholarships is missing the deadline. This is the easiest way to lose out on free money. Mark the deadlines down clearly on your calendar immediately and make it a constant reminder.
Some of the most popular types of college scholarships include:
Free College Scholarships
Scholarships by Major
- Nursing Scholarships
- Engineering Scholarships
- Music Scholarships
- Art Scholarships
- Journalism Scholarships
- Hispanic Scholarships
- African American Scholarships
- Asian American Scholarships
- Scholarships for women
Scholarships for International Students
Scholarships for Parents
- Scholarships for mothers
- Scholarships for fathers
- Scholarships for single mothers
- Basketball Scholarships
- Golf Scholarships
- Soccer Scholarships
- Football Scholarships
- Baseball Scholarships
- Softball Scholarships
- Track & Field Scholarships
Study Abroad Scholarships
Community Service Scholarships
This is the best time to seriously consider applying for scholarships. A great deal of scholarship money is being returned because of a lack of student interest. Take the initiative and actively seek them out. There is no need for money to be returned to donating companies because you fail to apply for it.
Below is a list of active scholarships students should apply for. If you know of friends or family members, refer them to these scholarships so the money isn’t lost.
- Student Inventors Scholarships
- Coca-Cola Two Year College Scholarships
- Holocaust Remembrance Scholarships
- Ayn Rand Essay Scholarships
- FinAid: The Smart Students Guide to Financial Aid Scholarships
- Microsoft Scholarship Program
- William Randolph Hearst Endowed Scholarship for Minority Students
- Maryland Artists Scholarships
- Jacki Tuckfield Memorial Graduate Business Scholarship (for AA students in South Florida)
- Historically Black College & University Scholarships
- International Students Scholarships & Aid Help
- College Board Scholarship Search
- Federal Scholarships & Aid Gateways 25 Scholarship Gateways from Black Excel
- FAFSA On The Web (Your Key Aid Form &Info)
- Scholarships and Fellowships
- Scholarships for Study in Paralegal Studies
- HBCU Packard Sit Abroad Scholarships (for study around the world)
- INROADS internships
- ScienceNet Scholarship Listing