How to Find and Apply for the Right Scholarships

Apart from getting an admission in the college of your dreams, what’s the one thing that every college aspirant dreams of? Scholarships. With college fees skyrocketing,  financial aids have become a necessity for almost every college student.

But, just the thought of a college loan is enough to turn your college dreams into a financial nightmare. That’s why scholarships are one of the most sought after financial aids. Fortunately, there are many options available to help out college aspirants. Here are a few tips to help you find and apply for the scholarships that are suitable for you:       

Where to Look for Scholarships

  1. Scholarship search engines:  Everyone knows that Google is the world’s biggest search engine that gives results for almost any search query. But when it comes to narrowing down and finding the right scholarships, websites like Fastweb.com and Scholarships.com are some of the most well-equipped search engines.These websites allow you to create a profile and show you scholarships that match your needs and qualifications. These search engines are undoubtedly the first place to go looking when you begin your hunt.
      
  2. Go Local – Newspapers, Guidance Counsellor offices, Financial aid offices: With resources readily available online, most of us have forgotten that there can be a lot available in the offline market. This applies to scholarships as well. For many, the search for the right scholarships ends online. From local newspapers to bulletin boards in guidance counselor offices and financial aid offices, there are plenty of offline resources to check out for scholarship info. In fact, you can come across some local scholarship offers that you can’t find online. All you need to do is step out of the house and look in the right places.
  3. Get info from the financial aid department of the university of your choice: Everyone has their preferred university from where they wish to graduate. Why not look for scholarship options that your dream college has to offer? Contact the financial aid department of the university of your choice to know more about scholarships and grants that they have to offer, if any.
  4. Look out for community-based scholarships: One place that most college aspirants fail to look for scholarships in is within their community. While many are unaware of community-based scholarships, some feel afraid or ashamed to inquire about them in the first place. The truth is that you can get scholarships from communities and organizations that your family is a part of. Check if your parents’ employers have any scholarship schemes for their employees’ children. If your family is part of a church group, ask if the church has any scholarships to offer. Many clubs like Rotary Lions Club, Eagles club, etc., have scholarships for their members. There are organizations that offer scholarships for community work and charity. Make the best of the community-based scholarships by simply asking the right questions to the right people.     

Things to remember before applying for scholarships:

  1. Apply for as many scholarships as you can: Is there any such thing as applying for too many scholarships? This is one of the most frequently asked questions by students. The answer is no. You can apply for as many scholarships as you want. In fact, it is advisable to apply for as many scholarships as you can as it will only improve your chances of actually receiving one. Remember, you don’t have to rely on one scholarship to pay for your entire college tuition fee. Since finding full scholarships are hard, students with multiple scholarships in their bag find it easier to pay for college.

  2. Familiarize yourself with different types of scholarships: Every college scholarship has their own criteria for selection. But scholarships can be broadly classified into four types:
  • Merit-Based Scholarship: As the name suggests, it is awarded to the students who have aced in academics and have a great score in competitive tests like SATs, ACTS, etc.
  • Need-Based Scholarship: This scholarship is awarded to students from financially underprivileged sections. The amount awarded to a student depends on his/her need for financial aid to pay for college.
  • College-Based Scholarship: There are a few college-specific scholarships that are awarded to students of a particular program, for eg: Engineering, Law etc. Colleges award these scholarships to students who are academically inclined to a particular program. Sports scholarship also falls under this category where the colleges recognize the athletic talents of students and offer them scholarships. 
  • Community-Based Scholarship: As aforementioned, students can look for community-based scholarships from their parents’ employers, church groups, membership clubs, etc.
  1. Research and prepare for scholarships before your senior year at high school:Most students make the mistake of looking for scholarships only when they reach their senior year at high school. Ideally, students should begin their research as early as 9th grade as it will help them identify the scholarships that they are interested in and prepare for it in advance. For example: If a particular scholarship requires you to score 1500 in your SATs, then you could diligently prepare to score high on your SAT exam.
  2. Keep track of deadlines: Every scholarship has its own deadline. You must ensure that you apply before that date to have a chance at being selected. Make a chart of all the scholarships that you want to apply for and make a note of when they start accepting applications and what their deadlines are. Avoid confusion about deadlines by keeping track of deadlines in an organized manner.
  3. Presentation and multiple revisions of scholarship applications and essays: To be selected for a scholarship, you need to understand the psyche of the selection committee. You need to understand what they are looking for in an application. And once you get an idea about the selection criteria – excellent grades or sports achievements or just a deep interest in a particular degree program – you should present your application and your scholarship essay in the most professional way possible. Proofread your essay and application multiple times to ensure that it is free of any errors.

While following these steps diligently might lead you to the scholarships best suited for you, always keep in mind to ‘NOT’ pay for scholarship information. There are plenty online websites that provide paid services to help you with scholarships. It is important to understand that all the information you need about scholarships is available online and offline for free. Do not spend money on the lookout for scholarships as it defeats the purpose of scholarships, which is to save money.   

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