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Where to Begin Your Scholarship Search

Sorry to break the reminiscence, but colleges are asking for a whole lot more than your savings held in Mr. Oinkers.

Francesca Kavalir

September 24, 2014

Where to Begin Your Scholarship Search
Remember those days when our most significant monetary concerns circulated around being a quarter short of getting a bouncy ball at the grocery store machines? When a plastic piggy bank filled with four cents was a gold mine? When a splurge would consist of an extra teddy bear outfit at Build-a-Bear? Sorry to break the reminiscence, but colleges are asking for a whole lot more than your savings held in Mr. Oinkers. For example, Tulane University of Louisiana asks $45,240 for yearly tuition. Carnegie Mellon University’s yearly rate is $45,760. Columbia University of New York tops the list at $47,246. Build-a-Bears are no longer relevant at this point.

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Panicking at the obviously high college price tag will not serve any student well. Instead, take action to cut down those costs by starting the scholarship search now. Rather than aimlessly applying to any scholarships available, one should first decide which types of scholarships suit him or her best.

Little-to-No Effort Scholarships

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The ones requiring the least effort are definitely the sweeps and promos: randomly drawn raffles where all one has to do is enter his or her name; these are ideal for those with little time to spare.

Essay Scholarships

Another common type is the essay-based scholarship. Scholarship essay contests can be extremely diverse in their subject range; find something specific to your interests and experience.

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Use your origins to your advantage and look for scholarships based on cultural background, too. A few other common scholarship contests have focuses like poetry, videos and social media.

School Scholarships

One need not look far to find scholarship opportunities; a common starting point is the school guidance office. The guidance and activities offices in one’s high school often post several local scholarships.
Locally endorsed forms of financial aid can be of great benefit in that far fewer students will apply than in any nationwide programs, giving a better chance of success to participants. Scholarships can be sponsored by everyone from rotary clubs to historical societies to orthodontists’ offices, and will often be posted on school websites also.

Search for Scholarships Online

For expanding the search to wider-known, high-awarding contests, scholarship sites like Fastweb help tremendously. Hundreds of opportunities await with just a few clicks. There is no need to worry about narrowing choices though; the site takes care of it all. When signing up for Fastweb, a student enters his or her information on hobbies and interests. The site then compiles a list of ideal scholarships for those factors. Although it can be easier to base scholarships on central interests, it cannot hurt to investigate a few new subjects too. Some scholarships do not require much experience in the subject field. Fastweb allows a student to browse through the scholarship directory, with dozens of scholarships listed by specific category. Take a peek at headline articles for some of the newest, most exciting scholarships.

Beware of Scholarship Scams

The end-all determinant of whether to apply for a scholarship is its safety and legitimacy. Any scholarship that asks for money through an application or start-up fee is questionable. Do not let any organization go unchecked, especially as their forms will require some amount of personal information. The request of information like social security and credit card numbers should send up a red flag of warning. Search the legitimacy of scholarships on the internet, or ask the person who introduced them. It’s important to note that, as a leading scholarship database, Fastweb screens all of the scholarships available on the site and does not charge anything for its services.

Scholarship Setbacks

One of the most prominent factors in holding people back from scholarships is worry. Questions such as “How can I make time to write this essay?”, “Should I wait for the next scholarship I like?” and “Is it even worth it to try?” prevent any action and lead to an endless search. Once you find a scholarship that seems appealing, just go for it! It can never hurt if you do not win, and many contests offer great experiences nonetheless. Do not doubt your odds either; someone out there has to win. Best of luck on the scholarship journey! Just follow these guidelines, earn those scholarships and that piggy bank will fill before you know it.

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