There are millions of dollars in scholarships available to prospective college students. The problem is trying to figure out where and how they are applied. There are plenty of sites online that are happy to help you with this process, but there is a fee. stop there. You want to find scholarships that can be awarded to you without repayment and without any search fees. If you’re prepared to spend some time researching scholarships and put some effort into completing your application, you can find a goldmine of available scholarship opportunities. Even if your family’s financial situation does not indicate financial need, it is possible to receive a huge scholarship. So never underestimate the potential of a scholarship. Having conducted a scholarship search with four of my own and sat on many scholarship review committees, I have experienced firsthand the abundance of scholarship opportunities. You just need some tenacity and perseverance to find the right person for you.
Instead of doing random searches on the Internet, try a good old-fashioned personal network. Look locally first. The first stop in your search should be your own high school guidance office. They may have applications in the office, or at least a list of local organizations that offer college scholarships. Organizations ranging from chambers of commerce to Lions or Rotary clubs are often sources of scholarship. Also check local newspapers. Most clubs or businesses that offer scholarships advertise in the newspapers. Many times, the booster club for your sport or extracurricular activities offers its own scholarship each year. Check with your church. There may be endowment scholarships established by family members in memory of deceased parishioners. Ask the clergy or youth minister for their insights. They may be aware of scholarships offered by the parish or by fraternal religious groups such as the Knights of Columbus. If you belong to your parish youth group, members may receive scholarships. Although the number of local scholarships may be smaller, your chances of receiving scholarships from a smaller pool of local candidates may be greater. Always remember that every dollar you earn through scholarships reduces any other type of financial aid you might need.
Other sources of scholarships can be found through the national office of your local group, such as Boy Scouts. Check their specific website or call your local regional headquarters. Also try putting search terms into the internet, pairing your favorite activity with the word scholarship. For example, search for “creative writing scholarships” or “cheerleading scholarships.” You might be pleasantly surprised by the number of scholarship descriptions that pop up. You’ll have to sort through them, but you’ll find plenty of opportunities. Don’t forget to check with your parent’s employer’s HR department to see if there are any scholarship opportunities there for employees’ children.
Finally, contact the financial aid department of the school to which you are applying in person. Financial aid officers may provide you with a list of special scholarship programs for different areas of student life. You may find scholarships for community service, leadership, club sports, music and theatre. Some schools may send you a list if you are admitted, but always be proactive and do your own research. It takes time to successfully complete an application, and in order to make yourself as popular as possible, you don’t want to rush through the process. Successfully completing a scholarship application is the most critical part of the process. For some important information on completing your scholarship application, check out the Celebrating College section of Celebrating Ideas Online.