You may feel like scholarship awards are too competitive for you to win, but someone has to win, so why shouldn't it be you? There are ways to improve your chances of landing a scholarship, even if it's the most competitive scholarship around. Target academic scholarships if you have a stellar GPA and standardized test scores, but also make a list of what makes you unique and make sure to include those characteristics when you're filling out your scholarships profiles. Once you have a solid list of scholarships for which you are eligible, it is time to go over those results and prioritize the ones with approaching scholarship deadlines and those you feel you have the best shot at winning. If you don't match the criteria of an award, don't apply. There are too many scholarships out there that will fit your unique, personal characteristics for you to waste your time on awards that aren't an accurate match. Should you wish to reach out to the scholarship provider, be sure you contact them in the manner that they've requested, whether it's via email, fax or a formal letter - it is important that you follow the exact directions of any scholarship application. To maximize your scholarship application output and the scholarships you'll receive, be sure to start as early as possible, usually in October of your senior year of high school or even before your senior year.
READY SET GO
When you are ready to start applying, it's important to get organized. One of the most important steps once you find an award that interests you is to read the directions, qualifications, and fine print carefully. You may even find some of the work you do can be applied to multiple scholarship applications - such as an essay or writing sample. Be sure you read the directions for those essays carefully. Make sure you're answering the essay question accurately and thoughtfully, as many judges will look to those essays to narrow down a long list of applicants. Start working on those essays early, and ask teachers or your peers for honest feedback. If it sounds too easy, that's because it is actually easy to apply for scholarships. Some may require that you put in some time, but once you've completed an application or two, you might find it will get easier and take less time with each additional scholarship application. Don't psych yourself out or let yourself get overwhelmed by all you need to do before you graduate high school. Start early and work diligently and it will pay off, literally. And remember: you're not alone. Many students feel unprepared when they're starting the process, but with a little research, preparation you could be on your way to an impressive financial aid package.
STAY IN CONTACT WITH COLLEGE OF CHOICE – It’s important to stay in touch with your school’s financial aid office, outside scholarships can affect this funding. Your school cannot refuse outside resources, however, they have to account any scholarships you receive as part of your total financial aid package. So, if a you bring in several outside scholarships, and their aid exceeds their cost of attendance, you might see a reduction in non-need-based aid.
APPLY FOR EVERYTHING – If you meet the basic eligibility requirements, go for it…Even if it’s for a small amount, say $500, and you spend three hours completing the application, you were just paid $166/hr for your efforts. Would you rather have a one in a thousand odds or one in a hundred? The fact that there are fewer students applying for these financial opportunities puts you in the unique position to try for scholarship that might not entirely match your interests or experience.
WATCH FOR SCAMS – Just because these scholarships are quirky doesn’t mean some of them might be too good to be true, and it’s important to keep your eye out for red flags. If they request any money to start the application it's probably fraudulent. Beware of telephone numbers with a 900 area code. A dishonest operation might put pressure on you by saying that awards are on a first-come, first served basis. Fraudulent operations may also claim endorsements by groups with names similar to well-known private or government organizations. For instance, the Better Business Bureau and government agencies do not endorse businesses.
TRY DIFFERENT APPROACH – Write down personal interests, clothing brands, foods, companies, hobbies, talents, or skills and then add the word scholarship to their search. In my 40+ years of higher education experience, I’ve seen some really unique scholarships appear. There are countless scholarships out there designed to reward athleticism, a high GPA, or community engagement, but what about all the students who do not fall into these categories?
Victwhon check below for a few examples of strange scholarships that have been popular over the last few years.
Doc recommends the following next steps:
I went my entire college career before I got a scholarship at the last semester that ended up paying for 100% of my school tuition and books!! I don't know what a D1 school is, but I do know if you start at a smaller school and do good, your chance of getting a scholarship gets better. When kids are trying to get into college right out of high school there is a lot of competition for those scholarships. As you go through your education KEEP APPLYING!! You will qualify for other scholarships later into it than you did right at first.
Where there is a will there is a way. God will provide.
DONT GIVE UP!!
Apply for everything you qualify for, every semester go back and hit the applications again.
Why are you so interested on the size of the school? If you are looking to find a way to go to college at no cost to yourself or your family, there are many options. The Peace Corps, the Military (how I did it), look for opportunities at smaller colleges, etc. You should think through your motivators for choosing to go to college. Are you going because you want to gain knowledge to work in a specific field? If so, what field? Are you going because you believe college will make you more successful? The best advice I can give is to think through what problems you want to solve when you get older. These can be big problems: national debt, inequality, world hunger; or small problems: fixing the coding on an API, making a business successful, helping people professionally grow, etc. Once you have an idea of what problems you would like to solve, you can steer yourself to a degree field. Once you get there, you should research schools that sound appealing that have that major. Then break that list down to schools that offer scholarships. You should also speak with your family about their financial situation. I came from a very poor family and I received no support in pursuing my education. That's why I went them military route. That isn't the only route though. There are educational benefits, namely the Pell Grant, that gives students grant money (you don't ever pay this back) to obtain an advanced education. I look forward to following up with you on this.