There are so many websites where you are given the opportunity to apply for scholarships, but the majority of them involve having to spend 20mins creating an account with every single website in order to start applying and most of them don't even apply to me after I've created my account. Is there a specific website or place where I can look for the best scholarships where there are hundreds of different types?
First, I would make a list of the things you are exceptionally good at. Have you received recognition for your participation in a sport? Do you have excellent grades? Are you involved in a service organization, church, or are you volunteering in your community? Think of the things that make you stand out as an exceptional person! Use those talents and skills as search words when looking at scholarship databases.
Next, check with the schools you are considering. Your best chances of earning a scholarship are locally, specifically at the school you are attending, and in your own community. So, check with the college to see what you might qualify for. Check with local civic organizations, local business owners, etc. to see if they can offer you help. Check with any clubs or organizations you have participated in to see what they might offer.
Once you are working on local opportunities, start expanding your search to the national searches available. I've listed some resources below. National scholarships are harder to get, because you are competing against a much bigger field of students, but they are very good resources.
Be sure to look at any little scholarships out there as well – the $50, $100, $250 scholarships, etc. Most students go straight for the bigger payoffs, meaning you are competing against a smaller number of people for the smaller scholarships. Less competition = great chances for an award! And little scholarships add up.
Another thing to do is keep a bank of your responses to common scholarship application questions. You don’t have to create a whole new answer for every scholarship. Work hard to create the best possible answer, and then use that for multiple scholarships. You may have to adjust your basic statements a bit for each individual scholarship, but this will definitely make your search easier.
Finally, don’t forget to write a thank you note, whether you get the scholarship or not. If you are rejected, thank them for the opportunity to apply. It makes you stand out from the hundreds (thousands!) of other students who applied. If there is an opening, it might increase your chances to be awarded if their first choice did not accept/changed plans. Good luck!
Mary recommends the following next steps:
A place I used when I was going to college is a great book called Barons. Its a book I signed out at the Harold Washington Library Downtown, Chicago. That book takes you through thousands of scholarships and explains what is required to obtain that scholarship. Now as other post have mentioned, apply for as many scholarships as you can, even if you don't think you apply. For example, when I was in architecture school I had a guy friend that applied for a woman based scholarship and he was one of the three applicants that won a $1000 scholarship. Don't forget million of dollars in scholarships money doesn't get awarded because people don't apply for them. Another good resource is school counselors, Major brands ie. Coke, Pepsi, Walmart, Avon even the US postal service has scholarships. Just ask around call a bunch of companies and don't be afraid to ask "Can you give me the number or website your company scholarship program." Be bold and you will see great things happen, you might be the next Gates scholarship winner.
The CareerOneStop Scholarship Finder has thousands of financial aid award opportunities. You can use filters to find the scholarships that fit your interests. Here's the link: https://www.careeronestop.org/Toolkit/Training/find-scholarships.aspx
Hope this helps. Good luck!