Hello! I’m Nicholas and I'm back with another post for College Knowledge Month! Last week, I talked about how to pay for college with federal and state grants. This week, I will focus on scholarships!
"Everyone is applying for scholarships. Why should I?" This is often something I hear students say when talking about scholarships. We think the competition is intense and our chances are slim, but the reality is:
"Everyone is NOT applying for scholarships!"
Contrary to what most think, ANYONE attending school can apply for scholarships and not all scholarship applications require you to write that scary long essay. I once applied for a scholarship that was sponsored by a fire sprinkler company and all I had to do was write a short essay on why fire sprinklers are important. Yes, I had to write that short essay, but it was not that difficult and that is all I had to do!
There are hundreds of thousands of scholarship opportunities out there. Check out websites like www.fastweb.com or www.scholarships.com to research scholarships that you qualify for. The great thing about these websites is they filter scholarship opportunities that you qualify for, which saves you hours of time researching!
Once you find the scholarship opportunities that you qualify for - spend time APPLYING for them.
Let's say you spend 20 hours a week researching and applying for scholarships. If you only get 1 scholarship awarded for $1,000, you just made $50/hour! Good luck trying to find a job that will beat that rate while in college! This is the mindset you should have when applying. View it as a job and know that the effort will pay off (literally)!
If writing the essay is stopping you from applying, take advantage of the resources around you. Ask a friend, former teacher, classmate, or really anyone to help you draft a short essay. There are often writing centers or college offices on your school's campus that will help you, if you ask them!
Let's say you’ve checked out these scholarship websites and you have applied to a few, but you are still looking for more options to make more money. Where else can you look? Here are three additional places to look that I wish I would have known about when I was in high school!
- College/University Scholarships
Most of the time students only look for scholarships online and forget about the ones that are staring them right in the face. Look up your college's website and research what scholarships they are offering. You’d be surprised by how many are available! Most universities are broken up into different colleges, such as the College of Arts and Letters or the College of Natural and Social Sciences, for example. Make sure to look into what scholarships your college and even your major is offering. Lastly, check to see if there is a President’s, Chancellor’s or Dean’s scholarship that you can apply for at your school. And remember, not everyone is applying, so you should be!
- Club/Organization Scholarships
If you are a part of a club at your school, check to see if they have any scholarships available. Most honor societies, Greek, and cultural organizations offer scholarships to their members. If the clubs don’t offer scholarships, then propose that they begin to do so. Contact alumni of the organization or contact their national office to see if they are willingly to set one up. You can also check out your local student government because often times they will have scholarships they are offering students. I served on my university’s student government for three years and the competition is not as fierce as you may think. In fact, there were times they had to extend the deadline for scholarships because students were just not applying! As a rule of thumb, if you ever see a scholarship that has extended its deadline, then apply immediately! This means they have funds available and not enough people applied! Your chances will increase tremendously!
- Private Scholarships
Research every big or small business that you can think of and start looking to see if they have scholarships for students on their websites. Although some of these may be a bit more competitive than the other options, they tend to have more scholarships available.
Take advantage of every option out there and get to applying!
In all reality, you will not get awarded every scholarship you apply for. And if we are even more realistic, you probably won't even get awarded half of them. Do NOT get discouraged. Stay committed and be strategic about your scholarship search. You WILL earn scholarships if you stay committed and the money you make will be worth it!
See you next week for our next post!