When I was a college bound high school kid and while I was attending college I made an effort to try to win as many scholarships as possible. It was free money for the most part but you have to spend some time to finding the scholarships and filling out the applications. Over the course of my 4 years in college I probably received about $20,000 in scholarship money! If you think this article doesn’t apply to you just keep in mind that if you ever plan on going to college or furthering your education with graduate school or have a child that will be going to college (even 15 years from now) you had better stay tuned.
There are many different types of scholarships. There are need-based scholarships (obviously based on financial need), academic scholarships (based on grades), and special qualification scholarships (such as organizations, gender, ethnic background, etc) just to name a few. There are also a ton of places to check for scholarships. FastWeb is a scholarship search engine I used while I was attending college. You can also find scholarships through high school guidance counselors and college financial aid departments. Another great place to look is the student or parent’s current employer and the potential future employers of the student. This is not an exhaustive list so check anywhere you can think may offer a scholarship.
So now that we know the basic scholarship types and some places on where to find scholarships, let’s get the point. How do you win scholarships?
The first step in winning a scholarship is applying for it. If you don’t you have a 99.99% chance of not winning. The .01% are the scholarships that you must be nominated for and can’t apply for. Once you start looking you will realize there are thousands and thousands of scholarships out there, but chances are you won’t qualify for a lot of them. Don’t get discouraged. Find the scholarships you can qualify for and apply for those.
Once you find scholarships you qualify for here are some tips to increase your chances of winning:
- The more effort it takes to apply for a scholarship the fewer number of applications the scholarship sponsor will likely get. This increases your chances of winning so don’t write off any scholarship application just because it requires an essay.
- Try to find the applications with the smallest potential pool of applicants possible. Do you have a unique heritage? There might be a scholarship for that. Are one of your parents in the military? Apply for the local commissary scholarships! Even better, submit your scholarship to a commissary in the area with as small a population as possible to increase your odds of winning. Did military parent work on aircraft carriers? Mine did and believe it or not there are scholarships for that too!
- While applying for a scholarship keep your audience in mind. Write to who will be reviewing the scholarship entries and tailor your experiences/essay/qualifications to get the reviewer to want to pick you. If you are writing for a military based scholarship don’t offend the military.
- Do not lie! If you lied you will likely get your scholarship application tossed out or if you were awarded the scholarship it could be revoked.
- After you apply, follow up with the scholarship organization to ensure they received your submission if at all possible. This shows your continued interest in the scholarship organization.
Make sure to keep track of all of the scholarship you apply to and whenever you hear back update the status of each individual scholarship. This will allow you to be able to analyze what types of scholarships you seem to be winning. In the future, make sure you apply to more of the types of scholarships you are winning.
I used all of these tips when I applied for scholarships. The ones I normally ended up winning were academic based or were based on my parents’ previous or current employment. I have to admit though, for every 1 scholarship I won I easily got rejected by 20 others. Keep your chin up and keep applying! Scholarship money was some of the easiest money I have made in my life and I am very thankful to all those who helped me complete my education.
Do you have any other tips for applying for and winning scholarships? Did you get any scholarships when you were in college?