The word scholarship can bring a range of ideas to the college student’s mind. Some might think, “That’s only for smart students” or “I’m not in any special club so I won’t get one.” Some might cower in fear of having to write scholarship essays while others might assume that all you have to do is click a button and scholarship money will fall in your lap. Make no mistake, applying for scholarships is real work but if you think that it’s impossible here are some tips that might help clear up your mind when it comes to the scholarship world.
Start Local When Researching Scholarships
The Internet is a wonderful thing. Right now it’s allowing you to read this article about applying for scholarships. It’s important, though, that you get out from behind your computer screen and explore the real world. The same can be true when applying for scholarships. Websites that offer free searches for scholarships are great, but your first stop should always be in your own backyard. Talk to your parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbors, co-worker and mentors. Are any of them in a group or club? Do any of them volunteer for a charity? Does the company they work for offer a scholarship? Don’t make assumptions! Just because your uncle Matt is in a motorcycle club doesn’t mean that they don’t offer a scholarship program. It doesn’t hurt to ask and the worst that will happen is you get to learn more about an interest of your relative.
The reason starting local first is great is because you will probably be competing with far fewer applicants. When applying for a scholarship you found on the internet, chances are good that you are going to compete with thousands of other applicants on a national level. By starting local you are competing against far fewer people, making your odds all the better.
Never Pay for a Scholarship Search
We all know that there are shady people out there. The same is unfortunately true in the world of student aid. As with anything on the Internet, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! There are plenty of websites that offer you to search for scholarships for free. (Check out our list!). Most of the time you will have to register or create a profile and you will want to review the different email options they have if you don’t want your inbox to be flooded. This is a great place to go to, once you have exhausted all your local options.
Scholarship Essay Tips
If the word “essay” makes you break out in a cold sweat then applying for a scholarship; much less multiple scholarships, might be what is holding you back. Why should you miss out on a chance for some cash because the blank page gives you nightmares? First thing to remember is that it typically doesn’t have to be as long as you think. Often times the essay portion only has to be around 500 words. Remember, the committee that is selecting the winner has to go through a lot of applications, so any lengthy essay that goes on and on and well over the word limit isn’t going to be looked at favorably.
Second, write from the heart. It is always easier to write something when you know about the subject and you are the best person to write an essay on yourself! Most essays questions for a scholarship will ask something about why you want to go to college or why you chose the major you chose. Imagine a friend or relative is asking you the same question and you will find that you have a lot to say on the subject.
Third, proofread, proofread, and proofread! No writing is perfect the first time so neither is your scholarship essay. Spell check and grammar check are not the only two steps in proofreading, either! Set the essay aside and come back to it in a day or two with fresh eyes. Re-read it slowly from start to finish and re-read it out loud once to catch those auto checks that might have changed “danger” to “dagger” or “perfect” to “prefect”. After you have edited your work ask a relative, teacher or mentor to check it as well. You wrote, read and edited your own work and will most likely look over something that they will catch as an outsider. Take any ideas and suggestions that they give with an open mind. They are making those suggestions because they want to help, not because they think you are a bad writer!
Lastly, check out the tips we have in the Scholarships for College section. These will give you more ideas when it comes to writing your essay!
You Can’t Win if you Don’t…Apply
No one is going to give you a scholarship unless you take the time to apply. Don’t assume that you won’t get it cause you weren’t the smartest in your class or aren’t in all the clubs or groups. If you don’t apply, you won’t even have a chance to win a scholarship, right? So what is the harm in applying for a few scholarships to see what happens?
So, now that we got all those assumptions out of the way go out there and start searching, writing and applying! Don’t forget to check out our scholarship section and happy hunting!