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4 Tips to Make Applying for Scholarships Easier

Posted On: July 27th, 2018

Applying for scholarships and grants is a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Most students are overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. I know I didn’t. While it’s great that there are so many resources available now to potential students, at the same time, having so many resources can be a bit overwhelming. Adding to the challenge of “too many choices” is the fact that you will be giving out your personally identifying information to many different places. You’ll want to use caution there, as once that information is out there, it can be difficult to manage who sees it, which may lead to identity theft. Despite these challenges, scholarships are so important, especially given the current cost of a college education. With the aid of scholarships and grants, you don’t have to take out as much in student loan money, which means less debt down the road when you graduate. Below are some questions I ran into when I was looking to apply for scholarships.

  1. Where should I look? There are a wealth of free websites out there devoted to individuals applying for scholarships. You typically have to create a username and password to gain access to the sites, but once you do there are thousands of scholarships at your disposal. Fastweb, Cappex, & Chegg are just a few to get you started. These aren’t the only way to get scholarships, though. Check with the school you are attending as well. A lot of schools offer different scholarships to their students. Also keep an eye open at local businesses. A lot of local places will offer small scholarships. Every little bit helps.
  2. When should I look? Now! Once you start your college search you should start your scholarship search, too. Some deadlines come up before school even starts. It is OK to look even if you haven’t made your final school selection yet. If you are already in school don’t stop looking. There are scholarships out there for current college and graduate students. You never know what extra money you could find.
  3. How do I write a good essay? I hope you like writing; most scholarships require that you compose an essay in response to a topic prompt as part of the application process. Make sure you always proof-read your essays before submitting them and have someone else read them too! One of my professors suggested investing in The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White (Find it here). Also don’t rely on quotes; remember that the best essays are unique and original and that the point here is to make your own voice heard. Writing note: Remember, there is no need to repeat the prompt in your opening. Make sure your essay is interesting right from the start.
  4. How do I know if it’s legit? There are fraudsters who try to trick young students into providing them with their personal information. Never ever pay money for a scholarship or pay to apply for a scholarship. Most scholarships require parameters such as your GPA, participation in clubs and activities and volunteer experience. If a scholarship site or application isn’t asking about your education or experience or claims to be guaranteed to all applicants, it is most likely fake. If you are suspicious, do not enter any personal information.

The National Society of High School Scholars is a great resource as well. There are scholarships for just about everything so you shouldn’t give up if you don’t have a high GPA or weren’t involved in any school clubs. I would love to hear about your scholarship application process and what worked or didn’t work for you. Send it to Val@rivervalleycu.org. For more posts visit my blog at https://www.rivervalleycu.org/val