With the price of tuition rising every year, more and more high school students are turning to scholarships to help pave the way to college. Applying, however, can be a challenging process. If you’re looking for tips to ace that essay and swim among all those checks, here are eight ways to nab a scholarship.
1: Start Early
If you’ve waited until your senior year, it’s almost too late. The application deadlines for many scholarships are at the beginning of the academic calendar because of tax constraints. Don’t wait until the last minute to start looking for funds, especially when fellow students, your competitors, are starting as early as sophomore or freshman year.
2: Use Scholarship Search Engines
These nifty little tools run algorithms to help you find as many matches as possible. The more information you put into them, the more results you’ll be offered, so make sure to check every box and input every extracurricular.
3: Don’t Count On A Full Ride
It’s okay to apply, because you should apply for everything. But don’t get your hopes set on a single massive scholarship to cover all your expenses. Not only are they extremely competitive, but it’s much easier to win a few smaller scholarships that will add up in the long run.
4: Fix Your Social Media Presence
If someone at Harvard googles your name, what are they going to see? The passionate, dedicated astronomer you claimed to be in your essays, or a wild party girl with a boy on each arm and a flask in one hand? Make sure your profiles line up with your studious persona, because it’s the 21st century, and you never know who’s watching.
5: Ask Your Guidance Counselor
While she can’t provide as many options as the Internet, she can offer real feedback about which students from your school have received what awards and when. Instead of just applying blindly for whatever programs will have you, you can work with her to sculpt pointed, attractive applications for scholarships likely to say yes.
6: Look For Off-The-Wall Funds
Did you know there’s a scholarship for being short? There’s also one where you can win thousands of dollars for creating a prom dress out of duct tape. If you’re worried that your GPA isn’t enough to merit any academic awards, look into alternatives with easier goals.
7: Personalize All Applications
Don’t send the same 3.5 essay to every scholarship program. For one, the judges will definitely know what you’re doing, having seen thousands of your like over the years. But even more importantly, your carefully neutral essay about working hard and looking for opportunities will go straight into the “bland” pile.
8: Look For Sponsors
If all else fails, seek funds from local businessmen or famous philanthropists who might be interested in helping a young person with a big dream. For example, if you’d like to go into law, Scott Reiman is an attorney who regularly contributes to local scholarship programs. If you’re interested in technology, Bill Gates has been known to send gifts to complete strangers.
These are just a few tips for securing a scholarship towards higher education. While nothing can be guaranteed, if you work hard, maintain good grades and apply to every corner of the world, you’ll be a college freshman in no time.