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.
1. 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 ScholarshipExperts.com.
4. 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.
Still have questions? Leave me a message in the comment section, and I will be happy to help you.
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