Student Life

Scholarships: The Basics

Learn about all the different types of scholarships available, how you can find them, and how you can apply and, hopefully, win!

Aleena Islam, Student Contributor

November 06, 2019

Scholarships: The Basics
We all know that scholarships are an important part of one’s college journey, yet they are often overlooked by students who don’t realize the value of scholarships, don’t know how to find one, or simply aren’t able to receive one. But scholarships are such a great tool for future and current college students! If used properly, it can greatly decrease the burden of paying for college. First and foremost, you already have access to an amazing free resource: Fastweb! Fastweb is home to some many hundreds of scholarships, and it specifically matches you with compatible scholarships. If you don’t already have an account, I definitely recommend that you get one, as it is one of the leading scholarship websites! Here, I’ll talk about all the different types of scholarships available, how you can find them, and how you can apply and, hopefully, win!

Different Types of Scholarships:

General

These types of scholarships are generally open to everyone and are a great place to begin your scholarship hunt! There might be some minor requirements like age or GPA, but typically you can find many where you easily meet the qualifications.

Academic

Academic scholarships are great for people who shine in their academics and studies. These are also often times called “merit scholarships” and can also be given to students by colleges who truly want them to come to their school. These scholarships often are given to students with high GPAs or impressive course loads. If this applies to you, then definitely check out these scholarships! If you don’t have the highest test scores or grades, there are “average academic scholarships,” that considers factors like extracurricular activities, community service, and essays. These are also numerous and you’ll likely have a shot at these scholarships as well!

Athletic

If you’re an athlete, then you’re in luck! There are many scholarships out there geared towards virtually every sport and activity. Athletic scholarships are some of the most competitive, and it’s important to perform strongly in both athletics and academics to have the highest chance of getting these scholarships.

Major-Specific

If you’re in college and know what major you will be pursuing, you can seek out scholarships tailored to your major. This is a good way to root out some competition as only people in your major will be applying, instead of a wide pool of students, as with a general scholarship. The nice thing about major-specific scholarships is that a lot of organizations may offer scholarships to students who are looking to major in certain fields. These scholarships are often come with small caveats. For example, when my aunt was in school to become a teacher, she received a large scholarship from a non-profit state educational board if she would teach in that state for at least four years after she graduated. Scholarships like the one I mentioned above can be a really nice way to accumulate money if you know what major you’re going into!

Miscellaneous

Those listed above are far from the only scholarships available! There are a multitude of other types of scholarships out there, including ones based on your extracurriculars, hours of community service, artistic skills, etc. You can also search for scholarships based on your passions, such as filmmaking, photography, etc. Trust me when I say there are scholarships for virtually every subject and hobby out there!

Where to Find Them:

Look Online

The Internet is your best friend when it comes to searching for scholarship opportunities! There are so many websites out there to help you on your search! As I said before, Fastweb.com is such a good place to look for scholarships, since you’re already here! By simply typing “scholarships for high schoolers” or “scholarships for college students,” you’ll instantly be able to find a variety of scholarships that you are eligible for. You can narrow the search down even further by looking up specific scholarships, such as “merit scholarships” or “athletic.”

School Counselors

Many high schools, mine included, offer a list of scholarships for students to apply for. I know that in my school especially, many students are unaware that this resource exists; however, if your school does have something like this, it’s a good idea to use it! If you’re unsure if your school offers ways to find possible scholarships, ask your counselor. Your counselor is there for inquiries such as these, so use them! This also applies for college students; it’s a good idea to ask your financial aid office as they will likely also have opportunities for you!

Businesses

Some businesses may offer scholarships to their employees or students looking to work in the same field as the company. For example, many employers like Publix, Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Verizon are just some of the many companies that help their employees pay for college. You can also search for companies related to your major and see if they’re offering any scholarship opportunities. If they are, definitely apply!

The Application Process

When applying for your scholarships, make sure you follow the requirements and directions carefully! You don’t want your application to be thrown out because you submitted a PDF file instead of a Word document, or you wrote more words than allowed. The best piece of advice that I have when applying for scholarships is to apply for as many as possible, especially for the scholarships that offer less money than others. The $100 or $500 scholarships are often overlooked because students go for the ones worth thousands- leaving these less valuable scholarships with less competition. If you put in the effort to apply for these $100, $200, $500 scholarships, they will add up rather quickly!

Keeping A Scholarship List:

As you find scholarship opportunities that you are interested in, it’s a smart idea to keep a list of all these opportunities as you find them! This list, whether it be on a computer or on paper, should include the scholarship title, subject, and due dates. This is the best way to stay organized and on top of your scholarship journey, especially if you have a rather busy schedule! You can also keep track of any scholarships you win on this same list! Simply jot down scholarships you’ve applied and if/when you win them! This truly does help to keep all your scholarships in one place and organized, saving you a lot of time and effort when you have time to apply.

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