Students do not need to be a true “A” student or score perfect on the SAT or ACT to secure scholarship money. You might be able to get a chance to win a scholarship with interests and skills such as making a short video about human population growth, getting involved in STEM, enjoying the fantasy trading card game Magic: The Gathering, designing a greeting card, or making a great duck cry.
In fact, thousands of scholarships are available to students based on grades, ethnicity, religion, personalities, hobbies, study choice, family history, types of service projects, organizations, skills, ability to answer essay questions, and more.
Getting a scholarship is tantamount to earning free money.
Here are some tips on how to find a scholarship and maximize the power of your application.
- Start by signing up at a free, online scholarship search website. Answer a few questions and get matched with many potential sources of free tuition. To make searching for scholarships easier, these sites allow you to store, organize and update search activities. Specialized sites for free online scholarship searches include:
All International College Counselors clients receive a monthly list of scholarships.
- Enter, Enter, Enter When it comes to scholarships, the more you apply, the more chances you have of winning! There is no limit to the number of scholarships students can apply for. Think of it like a job: Set aside time every week to search for and apply for scholarships.
- Apply for scholarships with smaller prices. National scholarships get more exposure and press, but you have a better chance of getting smaller scholarships. Also consider local scholarships, where you only compete with other students in your area. Ask around. Perhaps a student or parent’s employer is offering a scholarship or your place of worship offers an opportunity. Much smaller prices can add up quickly.
- Contact your high school counselor. High school consultants often have a list of scholarships available. You won’t know unless you ask!
- Visit the university’s websites. Many colleges offer merit-based scholarships that can often be renewed every four years. Check the college website and department of your intended major. There may be other scholarship opportunities, including earning the Eagle Scout rank or the Girl Scout Gold Award or as a FIRST Robotics or Vex Robotics team member. To find these more hidden scholarship opportunities, visit the university’s website and type the word ‘scholarships’ in the search bar.
- Start with your strengths. Apply for scholarships that match your talents and interests. It will be more fun to participate and if there is an essay or project to be completed, it will be easier to show the scholarship committee why you deserve the award. For example, if you like making movies, the scholarships that ask for a video are fun to do. Including your life experiences can also make your applications stand out from the competition. Use them to your advantage.
- Get good grades and test scores. This advice cannot be ignored. Many scholarships have GPA and / or standardized test score requirements. Getting strong grades and scores is really the easiest way to get a scholarship, especially from the student’s university of choice. Many colleges offer scholarships based on grades and test scores. Students must take the SAT or ACT multiple times (if necessary and if possible). Even if schools are “test optional”, scholarships may still require test scores. Students should check the university’s financial aid and scholarship websites for the most current scholarship requirements and processes.
- Follow the rules. If you do not meet the eligibility requirements, you should not apply for the scholarship. You’re just wasting your time. If a video can be shorter than five minutes, make sure it is shorter than five minutes. If an essay consists of 5 words, do not write an essay of 5 words.
- Don’t put it off. You can never be sure that the website, internet or computer will work.
- Get feedback. Having someone else review your application will help you correct typos and also give you a second opinion. Others may often notice things in our writing that are difficult for us to see, such as being repetitive, including unnecessary information, or writing something that is boring or does not answer the question effectively.
Scholarships take time and effort both in the search and application process, but it’s worth it! Keep looking for scholarships even if you are in college. Who doesn’t want free money?
Start early! Start now!