With the price of a four-year college education now often exceeding $100,000, students and their families need more than ever to think creatively. The common link among scholarship winners: They apply. You need to apply again and again. It is a lot of work, no question, but perhaps less than it seems. The scholarship process is a game, and you don’t automatically know how to play. You can master it. Start by looking at past scholarship entries. You can request them from sponsors. Talk to past winners. Don’t give up. Do not be dissuaded from trying. Look at all of your connections: parents, activities, church, ethnic background, even problem areas (for example, there are scholarships for students with asthma).
HINTS FOR SEARCHING:
Check the senior office areas. A lot of scholarship information is sent directly to high schools.
Visit scholarships.com or college-scholarships.com which catalogs 600,000 scholarships. Type the word “Scholarship” into your search engine to bring up many other useful sites. Most of the sites are free.
Follow the internet bread-crumb trail. Type a scholarship you know of into a search engine. Websites that list that scholarship will list others, too. That method will lead you to secondary and similar websites.
Quiz your parents and grandparents. Their employers or professional organizations may have scholarship programs for children of employees or members.
Interview local bank managers because banks often hold fund accounts for community scholarship programs, they can lead you in the right direction.
Start as early as possible.
Don’t forget to check with all the places you have volunteered and check with sponsors of any activities in which you have participated. There are many scholarships for students who have spent many hours volunteering.
Beware of these scams: A company that guarantees a scholarship or your money back, or that says it will do all the work. Scholarship services that charge fees or claim to have “exclusive” information. Services that ask for a credit card or say you are a finalist when you didn’t even enter.
Finally, as you fill out those applications and write essays, try to give a real idea of who you are. Don’t just talk about academic or work experiences. Use the essays to tell stories that give a clear picture of the kind of challenges you’ve met or overcome-not just in school