Finding and Applying to the Best College Scholarships: A Resource Guide
The college student debt rate is alarming.
In 2018, nearly 70 percent of all college students applied for student loans. These young learners graduated with nearly $30,000 in debt.
No one wants to enter the workforce financially behind the eight-ball. Post-graduation should be an exciting time. You're armed with quality education, motivation, and all the potential in the world.
This is why finding and securing college scholarships before you enroll is so important. Not only do they provide financial security but peace of mind for a bright future ahead.
Not sure how to find and apply to scholarships for college students? We're here to help.
Sharpen your pencils and get ready to learn everything you need to master the scholarship application process.
Where to Find College Scholarships
Before you can start the application process you need to find reputable scholarships. There are a few ways to do this.
Check with Your Current School Resources
Your high school is a great place to start when researching college scholarships. Both the financial aid department and guidance counselors are a wealth of knowledge for scholarship information.
Check within your local community as well. Your local church, civic group, or other volunteer and community organizations may offer their own scholarships for local residents.
Your employer or your parent's employers are other good places to check.
Take a Look at Your Talents and Hobbies
Do you enjoy crafting? Is music your passion? Many times, your hobbies and interests can lead you to scholarship opportunities.
Research companies and organizations that are related to your field of interest. You'll be surprised at how many unusual scholarships are available.
One of the most infamous is the Duck Tape Stuck at Prom prom dress scholarship. Recipients receive up to $20,000 for creating the best prom attire completely out of Duck tape!
There's even a Zombie Apocolypse scholarship available for all the gamers out there!
There are also college scholarships designed specifically for minority students. Check with ethnicity-based organizations to see if you're eligible.
Scholarship Directory or Database
You can also check a college scholarship directory or database like this one to search for scholarships near you.
You can search based on different criteria including:
- Grade level
- Subject of study
- Monetary amount
Some databases require you to enter personal information or create an account while others allow you to search with no strings attached.
Types of Scholarships for College Students
Athletic and academic scholarships are two of the most popular and widely-recognized -- but they're not the only ones.
Here are a few other types of scholarships to search and apply for:
- Law enforcement
- Community service
- Scholarships for the disabled
- Social justice
- Adult education
Depending on your unique needs and abilities, you can find a wide range of available college scholarships. You can also apply to multiple scholarships at once -- and you should!
Just be sure to check each scholarships' specific criteria to guarantee this doesn't make you ineligible.
By securing several scholarships, you may receive enough money to cover your entire tuition.
Application Tips and Tricks
Once you've selected your college scholarships it's time to start the application process.
Scholarships are rewarded for a variety of reasons. You may never know why you did or didn't receive a particular one.
While this is frustrating, there are a few steps you can take to increase your chances of being selected.
Read the Directions Carefully
This is one of the easiest ways to ensure your application doesn't get overlooked. Read all of the directions and guidelines of each scholarship carefully. Then, read them again!
Not following directions shows that you're careless and may not be taking the process as seriously as you should. Making minor errors that could have been avoided will also make the rejection even more upsetting.
Put your best foot forward from the start by reading and following all of the directions to a T!
Treat Each College Scholarship as a Unique Opportunity
No matter how similar two scholarships seem, don't use the same essay or information when applying.
Every scholarship is looking for individuality and something to "wow" them.
Although two schools may never know that you used the same writing, chances are they'll ask for different requirements - even if they're minor. This means that the essay you wrote for one scholarship may not be the perfect fit for another.
Don't cut corners. This is your future.
Don't Discredit Smaller Scholarships
The larger the scholarship is, the more competition you'll have. While it can be tempting to only apply for big-ticket scholarships that cover your entire tuition, competition is fierce.
Don't overlook the smaller, lesser-known scholarships. Not only are there fewer applicants to compete with but all those smaller amounts together can total one big investment in your future.
One mistake many eager college students make is waiting until the last minute to secure funds. Procrastinating wasn't a good idea when studying for exams and it's not a good idea now.
Most college scholarships have very strict deadlines and applicants are eagerly waiting to submit their forms.
Waiting until the last minute also puts you at risk for running into problems that may cause you to miss the deadline. Things like a faulty Internet connection misspelled mailing address, or lost recommendation letter could make you ineligible.
Things to Consider When Applying for College Scholarships
Applying for college in itself can be stressful. The college scholarship application process doesn't need to be.
By getting a jump start, tapping into multiple resources, and delving deep into your personal likes and interests, you increase your chances of securing funds.
Think outside the box and look for nontraditional scholarship opportunities. Read the directions carefully and apply early!
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