Scholarships are also a great resource for financing college, as it is “free money” that does not need to be paid back upon graduation. There is a wide funding source for scholarships, ranging from private companies to college alumni associations. As such, different scholarships focus on varying factors, including ethnic background, academic achievements, financial background, religious affiliation, particular extracurricular activities, anticipated majors, and future ambitions. Each organization that offers a scholarship has different factors that are important, but there are certainly many available for which you may be qualified.
Each university also offers a large array of scholarships, ranging from campus-wise funding to departmental specific scholarships. When you are considering a university, review their scholarship options and speak to an admissions advisor regarding your potential for receiving an award.
To access the large array of available scholarship applications, you simply need to conduct research online to find the ones suited for you. There are many different websites that maintain scholarship databases, and you can even register to receive daily updates regarding new available scholarships.
Successfully applying for scholarships
For many scholarships, there is extensive competition among students who would like to be selected for the awards. Generally, the great the amount of money the scholarship offers, the more students will apply for the consideration. In order to increase your chances of receiving scholarship awards, it is important that you complete the applications thoroughly and thoughtfully.
- Keep track of deadlines and apply as soon as possible: The vast majority of scholarships have deadlines that must be adhered to diligently. You should begin your research early in the school year and keep track of all of the deadlines. The earlier you apply, the better chances you will have of obtaining the scholarship. Some scholarships work on a rolling basis, and therefore, it is in your best interest to apply as soon as possible. In addition, due to inherent logistical risks, you should always allocate time for application errors, lost mail, and other potential delays.
- Evaluate the details for qualification: Most scholarships have specific criteria for their applicants. As many scholarships are offered by organizations, they each have their own requirements and specifications for the award. For example, some scholarships may be ethnically based, while others are specifically for individuals who are part of a particular group or religion. Make sure you review all of the details to ensure that you qualify for the scholarship.
- Prepare the qualifying documents: Many scholarships have additional qualifying documents that are required beyond the application, such as recommendation letters, transcripts, and essays. Your entire scholarship application must be complete to be considered, and therefore, it is important that you have all of this information prepared.
- Write a great essay: The essay is the most important part of your scholarship application. It gives you an opportunity to shine on paper and describe who you really are. However, you must tailor your experiences to the organization’s purpose to ensure that your application is relevant. For example, if you are applying for a technology scholarship, it is important to show your personality through a technology example. In addition, you should consider who will be reading your essay. If you are applying for a scholarship from a humanitarian organization, then your tone, word choice, and even examples would be different than an application to a business scholarship. You simply need to reflect on who you are, select a relevant example that illustrates who you are, and then tailor your writing style to the audience.
- Proofread! A critical step to increasing your probability of receiving a scholarship award is to ensure that your application is free of grammatical and spelling errors. There should be no typos or grammatical mistakes in your essay, and your application must be filled out completely. In addition, you need to double-check to ensure that all of the supporting materials are also prepared and completed for submission.
- Mail out the application: When you mail in your application, it is important that you send it certified with a return receipt through the USPS; this provides you with proof that you sent the application before the deadline, as well as demonstrates that someone did receive your application.