beginners scholarship guide

Intro to Scholarships – A Beginner’s Guide

Is this your first time searching for college scholarships? Are you not sure where even to begin? Don’t worry; thousands of other students are just as confused as you are right now. But, you have taken a step in the right direction by reading this post. I know it can be a bit overwhelming when you think about how much college costs, but take a deep breath and relax. The funding is out there, you just need to know where to find it and, more importantly, how to secure it. Over the years, I have offered advice on every aspect of the financial aid game, from searching for scholarships to writing a stellar essay. So, I dug deep into my archives to create a list of the most important topics you’ll need to know to help you go from novice to expert scholarship hunter in no time flat. But, before you start reading this intro to scholarships, I think it’s a good idea for you to know a few things up front.

hard work1. Scholarships take work. This is not a one-and-done deal. Those who are successful treat scholarship hunting like a part-time job. Understand that you will need to schedule time every month (though I encourage you to do something every week) and keep at it until you graduate from college.

2. Play to your strengths. Don’t waste your time completing applications for scholarships that don’t interest you. If you focus on those that excite you, it will come through in your essays and applications, increasing your chances for success.

3. Start locally. Think of scholarship hunting as an inverted triangle. A narrow focus on local awards is the best place to begin because there is less competition. Check with your guidance counselor, other high school websites, employers, churches, civic groups, local media (TV, radio, paper) and area organizations that focus on education and youth. Next, visit college financial aid websites (check the ‘outside resources’ section) and your state’s education website. Then, visit large company websites (look under community or education tabs), especially those associated with your intended major. You’ll also want to look into professional membership organizations. Finally, use several free online resources, such as

sad truth4. Not everyone wins. I won’t lie. There is no guarantee that all your efforts will pay off, but one thing is for certain — you won’t win if you don’t apply. In most cases, it will take several applications before you find any success. It was lucky #27 that did the trick for me. Don’t give up!

I know that you still have plenty of questions, so check out these links for more information.

Scholarship Basics 

3 Reasons Why I Deserve a Scholarship

Beware of These Scholarship Red Flags 

Stay On Track With a Scholarship Organizer

The Five W’s of College Scholarships

5 Tips for Completing More Scholarships

3 Ways NOT to Start a Scholarship Essay

How to Write a Winning Scholarship Essay

5 Tips for Successful Scholarship Interviews

How to Answer Common Interview Questions

How to Secure a Great Scholarship Recommendation Letter 

5 Tips for Winning Scholarships

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Tips for Making Video Scholarships

What You Should Know About Renewable Scholarships 

The Truth About Full-Ride Scholarships

5 Reasons Scholarships Are Not a Waste of Time

A Parent’s Guide for Helping Students Win Scholarships 

Still have questions? Leave me a message in the comment section, and I will be happy to help you.

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Tamara is the Social Media Coordinator and a regular writer for, and She enjoys helping students prepare for college. As a mother of four, Tamara has first-hand experience with many areas of education, including special needs (autism), the International Baccalaureate program and post-secondary education. She enjoys speaking at schools and mentoring others online. In her free time, Tamara enjoys volunteering and supporting her favorite football team, the Jacksonville Jaguars.
2 Responses to “Intro to Scholarships – A Beginner’s Guide”
  1. Ryan Ficus says:

    Hi I am trying to figure out what if any my son who is in 9th grade could start to try to get. Our family income is too high for any aid, but I would sure like some help. I don’t trust any of the website it just seems like they are fishing and spam related. I appreciate your time.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      As long as your son is 13 or older, he can use the online scholarship search tools. To avoid getting too many emails, simply have your son opt-out of communications. This is done during the registration process. has been helping students for 14 years and has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. I would also encourage your son to stop by his guidance counselor’s office and see what may be available locally. Check out other area high school websites, too. Scholarship information is usually found on their guidance or college planning pages.


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