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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
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