Paying for higher education is certainly a daunting task. With college tuition climbing higher and higher each year, students can use any amount of financial help they can get.
That’s why scholarships are so important. Scholarships, unlike student loans, provide money to help pay for college without requiring you to pay that money back.
So, students understandably want to find ways to apply for scholarships right now, or as soon as they possibly can.
Though searching for scholarships can feel overwhelming, the search does not need to be difficult. In fact, here are seven tips you can use while searching and applying for college scholarships...right now.
1. Search Your Network
When it comes to scholarships, you have great resources all around you. In fact, networks like school, work, parents’ employers, honor societies, alumni networks, and community organizations often offer scholarships for students looking for help paying for college tuition.
Think about all the different networks that you have around you, and search for possibilities for scholarships within those networks. Does your school offer scholarships? What about companies where your family members work? Are there any community organizations in your area that might offer scholarships for prospective college students? How about local alumni networks?
In fact, if you already know which college or university you want to attend, check out the scholarships their alumni networks offer incoming students. You might need to be accepted first, but local alumni networks usually have some kind of scholarship application available for prospective students in their area.
Moreover, if you are part of an honor society, you likely have access to several scholarships through the society’s website. For example, the National Society of High School Scholars has a long list of scholarships members can apply for based on academic merit, specific artistic talent, leadership, and more.
Search all available avenues, and you never know what opportunities you might find!
2. Use Tested Scholarship Search Engines
For students unsure sure how to use networks to find scholarships or who want to exhaust all possible options, scholarship search engines can offer great resources as well. Scholarship search engine sites match you and your unique qualifications with thousands of possible active scholarships.
By using these search engines, you can access plenty of scholarships that are right for you.
In fact, Fastweb has an article posted that lists over ten college scholarships you can apply for today.
3. Consider Your Interests
Your hobbies and interests represent even more avenues to consider when thinking about scholarship opportunities you can access right now. Many scholarships are designed specifically to help students with certain interests, like film, photography, digital media, fine art, technology, engineering, leadership, business, etc.
While looking through your networks and those scholarship search engines, consider searching for scholarships that suit your unique interests.
Sometimes you will need to submit a portfolio, sample, or video along with your application for these scholarships, but other times you’ll just need to write an essay along with all the necessary paperwork.
4. Have Paperwork Ready
Speaking of paperwork, one of the most important tips for applying for scholarships right now is to make sure you have all the necessary documents filled out for your application.
Usually, you will need to submit forms and documents like these to be considered for college scholarships:
- Financial aid forms
- High school transcript
- Standardized test scores
- Letters of recommendation
Make sure you follow all instructions for whatever scholarship application you are filling out at the time and provide the forms they need. If you’re applying for a need-based scholarship, you’ll likely need to provide similar information as you do for financial aid within a college or university.
5. Know Your Qualifications
If you’re looking to apply to scholarships right away, have a list of your qualifications ready as well. List all the reasons why you should be considered for a scholarship, from your grades and scores on standardized tests to your leadership qualities and volunteer experiences.
Don’t leave any accomplishment unaccounted for as you’re listing these qualifications. A scholarship application is a chance for you to show your best self. However, do make sure you follow scholarship application instructions in terms of which experiences you should list.
6. Brainstorm and Write Personal Essays
Along with lists of qualifications, scholarship applications often require students to write a personal essay that explores a theme related to the scholarship.
Essay prompts might ask you to reflect on a challenge you’ve faced, a realization you’ve had, your reasons for taking part in a certain activity, or your passion for one of your extracurricular interests. As you brainstorm, ask yourself questions about what you’ve learned in your life so far and what lessons you’d bring with you to your college experience.
You can also find plenty of scholarship essay tips and advice online to help you come up with and craft an essay that is both authentically you and impressive for an application.
7. Keep Track of Deadlines
Though this tip might seem obvious, make sure you also keep track of all scholarship deadlines. To find as many opportunities as possible, you might end up applying for multiple scholarships–all with different deadlines.
Put scholarship deadlines into your phone or however you keep a calendar, and remind yourself of them a week or more in advance. You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity simply because you got the deadline date wrong, mixed it up with another scholarship, or forgot!
Most of all, enjoy the process of applying for scholarships as much as you can. Many times, scholarship applications ask about your interests and passions, so have fun sharing those. Even when the work of the application might seem overwhelming, just think about how helpful some extra tuition money would be for your future.
Best of luck to all the scholarship applicants out there!