Apply for Scholarships
Just counting tuition, books and supplies, college costs can quickly add up. Fortunately, there are lots of free scholarships you can apply for to help offset the cost of your education. When you apply for scholarships you are entering into a competition where you must show the scholarship committee that the scholarship should go to you and not someone else, but unlike loans, scholarships are gifts of money towards your education and do not need to be paid back.
Types of Scholarships
There are an incredible variety of college scholarships available in the United States with the potential to help an incredibly varied student population. Would you believe that some scholarships go unawarded for lack of applicants?
There are scholarships for people with high grades, a talent for sports, military experience, disabilities, and specific employers, as well as for people with specific religious, club, organization, ethnic, or national affiliations. There are even scholarships for people who live in a particular state, plan to major in a certain discipline, or plan to go into a specific career type once they graduate, such as teaching. One good thing about scholarships is that you can apply for as many scholarships as you are eligible for.
Before you can apply, you must find out about the specific scholarships you could be eligible for. If you personally belong to a church or club, ask them about any available scholarships. Then ask your parents to inquire about any scholarship opportunities through their employers, as some employers do offer scholarships to help their employees’ children go to college.
Go see your high school guidance counselor and ask about scholarships you might be eligible for. In addition, check the school’s library or a local public library for books filled with scholarship listings.
Otherwise, you can search for scholarships with online databases. The College Board has a Scholarship Search function as do many commercial websites.
Apply for Scholarships
When you apply for scholarships, you are usually asked to complete an application package, which may be similar to the college application itself. The requirements for the application will vary depending on the specific scholarship and the committee that will review it, but some typical elements include an application form, an essay, letters of recommendation or even a creative portfolio.
Once you have a draft of your scholarship application packages ready, ask a trusted adult to review them with you and make some suggestions for improvement. You want the applications to uniquely reflect your personality and achievements, but at the same time it’s a good idea to get some constructive feedback that can help you present the strongest picture of you.
Tips for Applying for Scholarships
It is essential to read the instructions carefully and completely. You don’t want to miss receiving a scholarship because you missed sending in an element!
Submit your scholarship applications as soon as the submission periods open. You do not want to risk sending your application in too late. However, as a bonus, you will be showing the scholarship committee that you are a responsible person who does not wait until the last minute to do things.
If you need to gather letters of recommendation, do that as soon as you can, as you should make sure that you give people plenty of time to write those glowing letters of recommendation for you. For a creative portfolio, pick only your best, strongest and most appropriate work for the scholarship in question. Leave your other projects out of the portfolio for now.
Have someone else proofread your scholarship applications before you send them in. You don’t want to risk having someone misunderstand you. Then before you actually do send them off, make certain that you have copies of the scholarship applications for your own records.