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applying for college

Student Life

The Ultimate Guide for College Students to Find and Apply for Scholarships

July 8, 2021

Higher education is an ever-increasingly expensive experience. The College Board reports that average tuition costs rose by 21% just in the 10 years between 2010 and 2020. That’s a massive leap in such a short amount of time.

We all know that high amounts of student debt are a common stressor among graduates. It’s tough to start your career so far in the hole. That’s why it’s so important to do all you can to reduce (or altogether avoid) your total student debt.

There are several ways to do this, including saving money beforehand, working through school, and using student discounts. But one of the best ways to reduce your total loan amount is to use scholarships to help pay for your schooling.

How to Find Scholarships

Scholarships can be found from a variety of sources. They are typically offered by colleges, private companies, and nonprofit organizations. And there are multiple ways to go about finding these opportunities. Search high and low, so you can maximize your award amount.

Check with your school

If you’re in high school, check with your guidance counselor. They may know of scholarships being offered by the school or community that you can try for.

If you’re in college, check with the financial aid office regularly. Again, they may know of unique opportunities not readily visible online or elsewhere. And applying for less-known scholarships gives you greater chances of winning, as these tend to be less competitive.

Search on the Internet

There are plenty of websites that allow you to search for scholarships and apply, although some will simply give links to the original source of the scholarship so you can apply there.

For example, The U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop is a resource on various careers, salaries, training required, time and cost investments for that education, and financial assistance options for schooling—including a free scholarship search tool to find opportunities throughout the country.

As you search online, be careful to avoid scams. If a scholarship or financial aid application asks you to pay money, stay away. You should never have to pay money to apply to be awarded money.

Look for state and local options

States, cities, and communities may offer scholarship opportunities, as well. With fewer applicants, these often will have less competition and more chances for you to win.

Check with non-profit organizations, city governments, religious organizations, and community groups. Search and ask around at your public library for local opportunities. You may even ask your employer (or even your parents’ employers) if they offer any scholarships or assistance with tuition payment.

Remember to look for grants, too

While scholarships and grants are both considered “gift aid,” scholarships are often given based on merit, and grants are typically based on need.

In addition to Pell Grants (federal), there are also state grants and even local grants. Start by filling out the Free Application for Financial Aid (FAFSA) to be considered for federal grants. Then look around in your community for other opportunities.

You might find available grants based on what you plan to study or your income level. Keep in mind that many require you to keep up your academic performance to continue receiving funds.

Types of Scholarships

What are scholarships based on?

Scholarships are given for all sorts of reasons. As mentioned earlier, they are typically merit-based, but there are a variety of merits that could potentially qualify you for a scholarship. These include:

  • Academic performance
  • Athletic ability
  • Musical talent
  • Unique hobbies or skills,
  • Coming from a particular demographic or underserved community
  • Financial struggle
  • Community service or volunteer work

Essay scholarships vs. easy scholarships

The application process can look very different for different scholarships.

Many scholarships ask you to complete an essay based on a prompt. The winner is selected based on the essay—and sometimes nothing else. Other times, the essay is considered with multiple other factors to determine the best candidate for the award.

There are also many easy scholarships available that require very little effort to apply for. These can be a great option, especially when you don’t have a lot of time available but still want to keep applying regularly.

Of course, scholarship applications may require something totally different, such as an audition (for musical ability), a video presentation, or a work of art. Just make sure you allot yourself enough time to complete the application for each scholarship you try for.

Make Your Application Stand Out

Some scholarships will have a lot of competition to go up against. Here are a few tips to make your application stand out from the masses:

  • Precisely follow ALL directions for application submission. Some people miss these little details, which can immediately disqualify them from consideration, even if they’re an otherwise good candidate.
  • Take a creative approach to your application.
  • Submit well ahead of the deadline.
  • Complete the FAFSA. Some scholarships actually require this before applying, but it’s a good idea regardless.

Don’t Stop Applying!

Remember to keep applying for scholarships even after you’re enrolled in college.

It’s so often emphasized to apply for scholarships (and other aid) while still in high school. Applying to as many as possible as early as possible can increase your chances of receiving awards.

But it’s usually not said enough that current college students can continue applying for scholarships and grants while enrolled, earning award money for future semesters. Regularly check in with your financial aid office to see if any new opportunities have come up. Every little bit helps, so don’t stop applying!

Your education is a critical step to set you up for success in your career and for the rest of your life. Be intentional in setting the academic and financial goals to help you make this step. Put in the time and effort, and you may be surprised at the funds you can earn when you really apply yourself.

Other Transition

Helpful Advice When Applying to College

April 29, 2020

The college application process is an exciting time. This is an opportunity for high school students to figure out where they are going to go next. There are a number of hurdles that high school students must cross and one of them is the college application process. There are a few tips that students need to keep in mind as they are applying to college.

Know the Deadlines

This is at the very top of the list when thinking about 10 Tips When Applying to College. It is critical for everyone to remember that college is competitive and schools receive thousands of applications from qualified applicants every year. They are not going to bend the rules just because one person missed the deadline. Make sure to know the deadlines and get all of the materials in on time. Furthermore, when a student misses a deadline, this shows a lack of maturity, preparedness, and time management skills. Know the deadlines and get everything in on time.

Read the Instructions Carefully

Not every college application is going to be the same. There are going to be some differences from school to school. Particularly when it comes to essay prompts, it is important for students to read the instructions carefully. If students submit an essay that doesn’t address the prompt at the top of the page, this is not going to look good for the school. Therefore, every student must read the instructions along with each individual application. While this might sound like a lot of work, it is important to put the best foot forward.

Proofread All Submissions

Students have plenty of time to complete their college applications. Therefore, there is plenty of time to proofread. Spelling and grammar mistakes on college applications exude a sense of carelessness. This does not reflect well on the applicant. It is helpful to get another set of eyes on every essay. Sometimes, it is hard for students to pick up mistakes in their own work. Having someone else read it is a good idea. This way, all spelling and grammar mistakes are caught before they reach the desk of the committee.

Think About Recommendations Carefully

One of the most important parts of every college application is the letters of recommendation section. This is an opportunity for the committee to get to know each applicant on a personal level. Think about who is going to present the applicant in the best light possible. Try to get letters of recommendation from different areas including academics, athletics, and other extracurriculars. Each letter should show a different side of the student. Not much is going to come from three letters that all say the same thing about the student. Try to create a well-rounded picture with the letters of recommendation.

Tips for Applying to College

These are a handful of the most important tips that everyone needs to remember during the college application process. Keeping these tips in mind will set up every student to be successful in the future.

BIO: Brett Clawson has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys sharing tips that he and his son have found essential for college life.

Other Transition

Finding the Best School For You

August 15, 2019

For many high school seniors, the transition period between high school and college can be just as stressful as it can be exciting. One of the major stress factors during this period is deciding what college students are going to attend. Many factors go into this decision.

The Basics

There are some general things to look at when choosing a school; price, location, school size, grade/test score requirements, available programs, and student living conditions are just a few of the main aspects that future college students are looking at. A great way to narrow down the search is by figuring out three things that you want in a college. From those three categories, you should be able to gather a list of 5-10 schools that interest you. 

Go On a Tour

The next step is to make your best effort to visit all of the schools you are focusing on. The visit is one of the most important steps of picking a school because it gives you the option to try the school on for size. Just like a pair of shoes, you will not know if it’s a comfortable fit until you check it out in real life. When visiting the school try to schedule a guided tour. It’s the best way to get the most out of your visit. Tour guides are normally students who know their way around and can highlight some important areas of the campus. This also gives you the ability to ask questions. Asking questions helps ensure you know as much about the school as you possibly can.

Take Notes

After each visit, be sure to make notes of the highlights. Having a physical list in front of you can help with the decision process; you are able to see the pros, the cons, and the things you might need to know more about before making the big choice.

From here you should be able to make an educated and confident decision of the school you will be attending. While making this decision can be stressful,  gathering as much information about the schools will make the process go smoother. No matter your preferences, if you put in the due diligence, finding the right school to put you on the path to success is possible.