Tips for Getting Scholarships

Posted by Kristen Kelbaugh on 2/8/2019 8:10:00 AM

Picking the college that you want to attend after high school can be stressful.  Having to worry about meeting certain extensive requirements and trying to find the college that best fits the path you are trying to pursue in life but, one of the most stressful parts is the substantial amount of money it takes to be able to have that higher level of education.  College isn’t cheap and scholarships can be your saving grace when it comes to paying the bills that will eventually start to add up.  So here are some tips for getting scholarships and as a result lessening the financial stress that comes with going to college.

 

  1. Start searching for scholarships as soon as possible. Don't wait until your senior year to start searching, or you’ll miss a lot of deadlines. There are many scholarships available to freshmen, sophomores and juniors, not just seniors and you should continue to look for scholarships even after you are enrolled in college.
  2. Join clubs, honor societies, sports and other extracurricular activities. This is just a recommendation but colleges do look at things like this and if they see this on your application the chances of you getting into that college and scholarships for that particular school improves.  Also start building up volunteer hours.  Scholarships, such as Bright Futures, require you to have a certain number of hours logged to be able to get it so, whenever you are helping out at a community event make sure to jot the number of hours you helped out down and get it signed by whoever is in charge, those volunteer hours will definitely come in handy.
  3. Apply to every scholarship for which you are eligible. Pursue less competitive scholarships, such as small awards and essay contests, since they are easier to win and the money adds up and helps you win bigger scholarships.
  4. Play to your strengths. Create a list of what you’re good at then, figure out how to highlight your strengths throughout your application, specifically in the short answer and essay questions. Show the scholarship committee why your skills make you the perfect candidate for the award.  Your life experiences can also make your applications stand out. You’ve likely experienced events or challenges that are different from others: brainstorm a list and use it to your advantage.
  5. Use another set of eyes. Having another person, whether it’s a family member or a friend, look over your application can save you the embarrassment of unnecessary typos and also provide you with a second opinion. Often times, others can notice things about our writing that we have trouble seeing, like being too repetitive, writing too much unnecessary information, or being too boring.  Family and friends can provide helpful insight on how to get scholarships that you may have not thought about yourself.
  6. Look for local scholarships. Even though national scholarships generally get more visibility and press online, local scholarships usually offer better chances. You’ll only be competing against other students in the area rather than thousands of students all over the nation. Not only that, but you can support local initiatives in the community that represent awesome causes.  Your high school guidance counselor or college admissions office should have plenty of information on local scholarships that apply to your situation. If not, try searching for “scholarships + your state/city” on Google or using a scholarship search engine, where you’ll likely be able to find lists of scholarships.
  7. Don't miss deadlines. Use a calendar and checklist to get organized.
  8. Most importantly, don’t lose hope. Figuring out how to get scholarships can seem overwhelming and time-consuming, but it’s 100% worth it in the end. Don’t be discouraged if you find that you’re not winning as many scholarships as you had hoped.  In the end, your patience and time can help you pay for college while avoiding dreaded student loans at the same time, leaving you in a significantly better financial situation after graduation.