Remember that time when you were scrolling through scholarships on Fastweb, and you thought, Man, I have to write this really long 1,600 word essay in order to earn this $1,000 scholarship?
You tried to furnish it, proofread it, edit it, then when you thought it was perfect you submitted it with your fingers cross. Next thing you know, your hard work was of no avail when you got a rejection letter, saying, We were overwhelmingly impressed by the amount of talent that is put into these essays, but alas, there can only be one winner. Even though you are not selected as the winner, we hope you excel in your academic pursuits.
Here is a no-brainer: earning scholarships is hard. There were more than 3,000 essays received for the Dear Evan Hansen “You Will Be Found” College-Essay Writing Challenge—and only one winner gets the $10,000 prize. Sure, you might be a finalist or a semi-finalist, but people write a scholarship essay so that they can earn it. However, that’s not how it works. You don’t earn scholarship money just by participating in a contest. When you suddenly get this reality check, you think to yourself, Why should I bother applying to more scholarships when the competition feels rigged?
Next, college comes around and your schedule is busy seven days a week. You’re so focused on studying and writing essays for your classes that you feel like there is no more motivation to put extra work on that other scholarship essay. You are also involved in clubs and organizations, and maybe even have a job. There doesn’t seem to be enough room to nudge some effort into finding scholarships at all—not to mention, you have this internal belief that you won’t win a scholarship anyway.
Here is my plan on how to tackle this...
I am not going to give up. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. It’s impossible to win if you don’t apply to any scholarships during college. I know this is really cliché, but can you imagine the number of people in this world who desire to win scholarships, but they don’t take action? It is like people who aspire to become a writer, but then they don’t write anything.
For starters, the easiest scholarships to apply to are the No-Essay Scholarships. Like the $2,000 Scholarship--No Essay
from Nitro and the $2,000 Niche No Essay Scholarship
. The applications are really easy to fill out and only require basic information like your birthday or email. It only takes a couple of minutes to fill those out, so having a busy college schedule shouldn’t be an excuse to not apply.
Also, it’s easier to make something happen when you are genuinely curious and passionate about it; but, what does this have to do with applying for scholarships? Apply for the scholarships where the topic is actually something you care about.
One of my interests is literature; there was a scholarship called “The Short Story Book Club Scholarship.” The goal is to write an essay about a short story and analyze its literary techniques and thematic ideas. When I discovered this scholarship, I had a lightbulb-moment, and decided to write about the works of one of my favorite authors, J.D Salinger. I picked his short story, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” and I wrote the essay with real, cognitive focus and effort. I completed the same procedure that you should do, which was editing it and proofreading it. Then, I submitted it and lo and behold, I won the scholarship a month later, earning $250. Lesson learned: When you actually turn work into play, the job becomes easier.
Sometimes scholarships can be found in a variety of places, not just on online websites like Fastweb. There are bulletin boards posted all around campus in my college that keep me updated on new opportunities in internships, clubs, and—most importantly—scholarships. UC Merced is a research-based university, making it possible to turn my research into scholarship opportunities from my college...which would be absolutely fantastic.
It is also smart to connect with professors during their office hours, mentioning your interest in university-sponsored scholarship opportunities. However, the best resource to find scholarships specific to my university is the Financial Aid and Scholarships center. Here they provide resources on how UC Merced students can earn, well, scholarships!
I’m currently planning on continually submitting no-essay scholarships each month. The most important thing is to have persistence. You have to accept the fact that everybody is applying for that $500, $1,000, or $10,000 prize. Remember to take the rejections with a grain of salt.
At your university, know the resources that can help you apply for more scholarships. Your college might also have a Financial Aid and Scholarships center like mine, or maybe there is a flyer that shows a scholarship contest going on. It is up for you to find those opportunities, and to fuel your own motivational kudos. Dong this will really help you out in the long run.