When seeking scholarships, three main resources come to mind: your school, your town, and the Internet.
Regardless of your experience and faculty with these options, your junior or senior year of high school are good times to start for all three.
Next, I’ll break down each option for every student.
High schools know that their students are anxious about college, especially affording an education.
Students whose parents aren’t the Obamas or the Carnegies need to know that their school has opportunities for financial help.
Your first stop should be the guidance or counseling department. As a hub of all things college-related, these offices usually have lists of scholarships available for students.
Start with the counseling website. If nothing is listed, speak to your guidance counselor or a school administrator. Start early, as some scholarships require recommendations, essays and have deadline requirements.
Also, many schools offer scholarships especially to seniors, usually from specific memorial funds. These scholarships tend to be specific, so do your research to see if you qualify.
For example, my school offers a scholarship for future English teachers and another for church members. Ask your teachers, as your teachers are often the people asked to recommend students for these awards.
Most towns, even small ones, have local scholarships. These tend to be run by local clubs, so make sure to inquire at any clubs or groups that you or your parents may belong to, such as a local Woman’s Club.
Scholarships may also be available beyond your town, especially if you live in an area composed of many small towns. Look for county or district scholarships.
Sometimes these opportunities are posted around local establishments, such as coffee shops, libraries, religious and municipal buildings.
Reach out to past graduates who attended school in your area. They may know of scholarships that they took advantage of, or that friends utilized.
If you’re reading this, you’re already on your way. Fastweb is one of many websites designed to connect students with scholarships.
With online scholarships, you might feel stressed or anxious about competing with so many other scholarship-searchers. I’ve certainly submitted scholarships that I haven’t won, often because they were national scholarships full of bright applicants.
Applying for national scholarships is a smart idea because they often offer the most money. You won’t often find $10,000 scholarships from local organizations.
However, keep in mind that smaller scholarships have their benefits. Though the award amounts may be smaller, the competition pool is smaller and you have a greater chance of winning. And, if you win several smaller awards, that money can really add up!
That’s why it’s recommended you should apply for more specific scholarships. There are scholarships for almost every person. Search “weird scholarships” and you’ll be amazed, but start with the basics.
Your age, gender, race, experiences, hobbies, aspirations, and eccentricities set you apart. Apply for scholarships for women specifically, or for African-Americans.
Scholarships exist for future farmers and artists, or any other profession you might pursue. Design a sign or make your prom outfit out of Duct tape to win college money. There are scholarships for bowlers and even for vegetarians.
If you’re willing to do your research, set aside some time, and put in the work, you can generate money for college.
Start with your school, and apply for everything possible. If you’re late for scholarships, it’s okay, you’ll find another. Just don’t make it a habit or you may miss out on some great opportunities!
Not every scholarship requires an essay. Some are fashion contests, some just sending in your Common Application and transcript, and some are so strange they might even end up being fun.
Don’t agonize over missed deadlines or scholarships you didn’t win. Take a deep breath and do what you can.