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How do you get scholarships?

I applied for 30+ scholarships in my senior year of high school, and never won any of them. I'm wondering if there are any tips or tricks you know to get scholarships.

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Subject: Career question for you


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Shawn’s Answer

Here's a great resource for this one:

  1. Give the scholarship sponsor what it wants.
    A scholarship application often contains the sponsor's scholarship selection criteria, but dig deeper. Research the scholarship sponsor on the web. Look for the organization's mission statement, which you'll often find in the "About Us" section of its website.

  2. Get involved with your community.
    Students who volunteer enjoy a huge advantage with scholarship sponsors, says Marianne Ragins, who was featured on the cover of Parade Magazine in 1991, one of the most popular issues in the magazine's history, after winning more than $400,000 in college scholarships. Ragins, who conducts presentations on winning scholarships, says scholarship sponsors are looking for a long-time commitment to volunteering. This bias towards volunteering makes sense since many scholarship providers are nonprofits committed to helping others.

  3. Look professional.
    Google your name to make sure that you have a professional online presence, advises Mark Kantrowitz, the publisher of FastWeb and the author of the new book Secrets to Winning a Scholarship. Remove any inappropriate material from Facebook. And don't use a risqué email account. Keep it boring.

  4. Use a scholarship search engine.
    Using scholarship search engines will make your job easier. Here are some to check out:
    College Board

  5. Don't ignore the optional questions.
    When supplying your background on scholarship search engines, answer the optional questions. Addressing these questions can generate about twice as many scholarship matches, Kantrowitz says.

  6. Learn more about scholarship odds.
    Read this post from Which College Scholarships are Easy to Get? We Have the Data.

  7. Apply to every eligible scholarship.
    It's a numbers game and even among the most accomplished students, luck is a factor. Don't ignore the small stuff. Some scholarships worth $1,000 or less may only have 15 or 20 students applying, Ragins says.

  8. Look for essay contests.
    Students can be lazy and many will skip scholarship contests that require an essay. Applying for these scholarships could increase your odds of success.

  9. Be passionate.
    When you're writing a scholarship essay let your personal voice come through. Include lots of details in your essay that helps reveal who you are. It's usually a good idea to focus on a problem and how you solved it or overcame adversity.

  10. Think local.
    Ask your high school guidance counselors about local scholarships. Also check bulletin boards at libraries and outside financial aid offices. Local scholarships are going to be easier to win than regional and national ones.

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Ken’s Answer

Hi Anina!

It sounds like you are having an interesting and frustrating time learning about college scholarships. If you continue to look, you probably will come up with one. It can be a time consuming process. Below I am providing some helpful information.

Here are some tips on applying for scholarships:

Be very careful. There are many scams out there regarding scholarships. These appear to be good sites that can help you find scholarships and internships:

Other places to look:
- your favorite teachers
- your school counselor
- the alumni relations person at your high school might be able to put you in contact with graduates of your school who might be able and willing to assist
- the pastor of your church
- local professional organizations to which people in you career area might belong. The librarian at you local library can help you find those organizations
- the reference librarian at your local library
- professional and service organization to which you parents might belong

It is very important to read and understand why you were not successful with the scholarships to which you applied. If you were able to share such data with me, perhaps I could provide more information.

Looking forward to hearing about our progress. I would like to know more so I can hep more.