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Playing the Odds with Scholarships

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I would love to finance my #higher-education with more #scholarship money, especially given a cut in state funding for #financial-aid taking effect next year.

Is it more worthwhile to devote my time to the easier #scholarships that simply require me to sign up for a website or take a survey? Or should I pursue fewer scholarships, but try to go for the ones that require an #essay ?

Where will my time be best spent?

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Lynette’s Answer

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This is a smart move. Every little bit counts, and you'll have a much better college experience if you aren't too stressed about finances.


Like any "gamble", I would advise that diversification is a smart way to get the most out of your time. If you spread your time and effort over a mix of opportunities, some short, some long, you'll maximize the overall, possible outcome. Those that are easy to apply for will likely have a higher number of applicants, which will decrease your odds of being selected. Those that take more time and effort will give you more of a chance to showcase your skills, talents, and achievements, which will allow your application to shine, and rise above others.


Filling out countless surveys, if you don't really have any special qualifications for them, would be like playing the slots. Doesn't take a lot of time or brain power, sure. And, you might even get lucky if you pull the handle enough times. But, on the down side, the slots don't allow you to apply any sort of smarts or strategy, which could improve your odds of winning, over sheer luck of the draw.


If you have special skills, talents, leadership achievements, extra-curricular interests, essay-writing skills, or other ways to help your application stand out from the crowd, I'd leverage those to the best of your ability. Don't target scholarships based on how easy the application is, but rather, select those where your skills and talents would likely be the VERY BEST match, making you the candidate most likely to be selected. That's the best way to improve your odds of winning!


And remember, those selectors are people, not machines. They are handing out hard-earned money, and they care about who gets it. They want to make sure it goes to the most deserving candidate in the applicant pool. So, keep that in mind when you are filling out the surveys and other applications, and you'll do fine. Good luck!




Lynette recommends the following next steps:

  • Check out this article, which lists some more good pointers. [Article is slightly dated, but the ideas presented here are all still great, for today.] https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2011/03/22/17-ways-to-boost-your-shot-at-a-scholarship
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Vickey’s Answer

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Good question! This requires research, research, research. Money is out there. You just have to look hard to find it.

Vickey recommends the following next steps:

  • Contact high school counselor regarding available financial aid
  • Contact the financial aid offices of the colleges you are interested in to inquire about financial aid
  • Use the internet. Check anything labeled financial aid. Check the career you are interested in. They often have scholarships
  • Check with your state. Many times politicians offer scholarships.
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