Winning scholarships is an important part of your plan for paying for college. About one in eight students wins some scholarship money with the average amount being about $4,000.
This five-step plan will help you get started on your path to winning college scholarships.
Step 1: Start Immediately
Start searching for scholarships sooner, rather than later. The sooner you begin searching, the fewer deadlines you will miss.
There also are many scholarships available to students in younger grades, such as the Jack Kent Cooke Young Scholars Program and the Davidson Fellows Scholarship. Some scholarship applications are restricted to students who already are enrolled in college.
Step 2: Search for Scholarships Everywhere
Be thorough in looking for scholarships. Some of the best sources of scholarships include:
- Free online scholarship matching services, like collegegreenlight.com/scholarships. These services compare your background profile with a large database of scholarships, providing a personalized list of all the scholarships for which you are eligible.
- Bulletin boards outside the school counselor’s office and near the jobs and careers section of the public library.
- Ask friends and family for ideas. Ask your parents’ employers and fraternal organizations if they sponsor a scholarship. Ask local businesses.
Step 3: Beware of Scholarship Scams
Never invest more than a postage stamp to apply for a scholarship, even if the fee sounds reasonable. If you have to pay money to get money, it is probably a scam.
Step 4: Choose Scholarships You Can Win
Apply for every scholarship for which you are eligible. By applying to more scholarships, you increase your chances of winning one.
Applying for scholarships takes less time than you might expect. After your first half-dozen applications, you find that you can reuse previous essays for different applications.
If you have more scholarship matches than you can handle, prioritize them first by deadline. That way, you won’t disqualify yourself by missing the deadlines.
Concentrate on scholarships where you have the greatest odds of winning, such as scholarships with a strong match to your background, local scholarships and less popular scholarships. The most generous and prestigious scholarships get the most applications, which makes them harder to win. Scholarships involving smaller dollar amounts and writing essays tend to get fewer applications.
Step 5: Increase Your Odds of Winning a Scholarship
A few simple tricks can increase your chances of winning a scholarship:
- You can’t win if you don’t apply. Apply to more scholarships to increase your odds of winning.
- Create a professional online presence. Delete inappropriate Tweets and Facebook posts. Use a professional email address.
- Read the sponsor’s web site before starting the application. This will let you tailor your application to the sponsor’s goals in sponsoring the scholarship.
- Read the directions and follow them carefully.
- Proofread the application and essays before sending the application. Spelling and grammar errors can give a bad impression.