No matter how much financial aid you’re getting from your college – APPLY FOR OUTSIDE SCHOLARSHIPS! Even if schools give you a full ride, they most likely expect you to do some work or Work Study or borrow. Outside scholarships can often be used to substitute for your work or loan obligation.
Your first semester you may want to focus on academics and not work. Plus, who doesn’t want extra money? Seriously, you can never have too much, because you want to be prepared for emergencies.
1. APPLY TO THE CSO OPPORTUNITY SCHOLARSHIP! It’s $4,000 guaranteed over four years, and you get to help out other students like us through blog writing. Here’s the link about the scholarship: http://csopportunity.org/ss/oppscholarship.aspx. If you are reading this blog, you should definitely apply, as it’s an amazing program and you meet awesome people.
2. Look EVERYWHERE for scholarships. McDonald’s, Coca Cola, churches, and even sororities and fraternities have scholarships. Your school may have scholarships as well. It never hurts to ask. When in doubt, ask. Of course, apply to the huge scholarships (Gates, Elks, etc) but the ones that add up the most are the tiny ones. They are often less competitive because people are thinking what you may think -$500, $250, $50 is nothing. APPLY! 20-30 $250 or $500 scholarships add up, and they are usually pretty easy to apply for. Apply for everything you have time for. And definitely make time if you don’t have any.
3. Before applying to a scholarship, read the scholarships’ Mission Statement. That will contain valuable information about what they are looking for in scholars, and you can tailor your essays to highlight what they value.
4. Apply and submit EARLY! And CHECK IN! I applied to the Gate Millenium Scholarship. I applied a month early, but they had problems with my transcripts and contacted me while my school was on Spring Break, on the deadline! If I had checked in throughout the month, I may have reduced the chance that would happen, without that rushed feeling. You never want to be or feel rushed when you are applying for scholarships. I took it for granted that they’d catch any concerns just because I submitted it early. Never do that. Check in because it’s better to be “annoying” and informed than clueless and lose out on money!
5. Don’t go to a website that asks for money to find you scholarships. There are tons of free search engines, and your teachers, mentors, and other people you know will give you that info for free!
6. Reuse essays and edit to fit the particular scholarship. Unless you are particularly inspired by a scholarship or believe in rewriting essays (I do it too) reuse your essays! For some scholarships, I did rewrite essays. For many of them, I was able to tweak my old essays.
7. Think of applying to scholarships as a job. A typical 9-5 job pays you about $8-$10/hr, or about $60-$80. A scholarship, on the other hand, can pay you anywhere from $250- $10,000+ for just a few hours of work! If you spend just 3 hours a week applying to $500 scholarships, for example, that’s $1,500, 3000% more than you’d get for less time! It, of course, increases the more scholarships you apply to/ more time you put in. When you have free time, you’re bored, you’re in between classes, you’re eating, or you have any sort of weird free time (like 10-45 minutes) APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS. It seriously pays (pun intended) the more work you put into it. And come on, money just for assembling words on a page, submitting a video, etc? EASY Money!
8. Be sure to follow up with confirmations, transcripts, verifications, and any other documents the scholarship requires even after you win it.
Good luck with senior year and your scholarship search. Remember, the more time you put in, the more money you get, and after all that work, you deserve it!