Students must find the school and program that best align with their long-term career goals. Some people may hesitate to go to school or return for a variety of reasons, such as family, health, job and finances. While everyone’s situation is unique, your financial situation alone shouldn’t deter you from pursuing your education.
There are many viable options for students to finance their education both through their school and with external sources. One of the easiest ways to fund your college education is through scholarships —basically free money to be applied toward your education and awarded based on a variety of factors.
A common misconception is that scholarships are only awarded when you first start school. While this is a common time for students to receive scholarships, you can get financial aid throughout your education! Here are five ways to increase your chances of getting scholarships.
Not all scholarships are created equal! A simple search of “scholarships” can display thousands of different opportunities throughout the country, each with its qualifications.
A good way to locate the right scholarship for you is by narrowing the options to ones that describe you and your experiences. Where do you volunteer? Do you belong to any clubs or special organizations? Are you involved in any athletic programs?
Many opportunities are awarded based on other factors such as:
- Race or ethnicity
- Academic achievements
- Local community
- Hobbies and interests
- LGBTQIA+ identity
- Civic/Military involvement
- And much more!
You may also look for scholarships for specific majors or degrees that lead towards a specific career. Trust us: there is a scholarship that is suited for you!
Ask the Experts
Who is better to ask than someone who understands where you are on your educational journey! If you are already a student, you should ask a financial aid advisor for more information. They may have advice or resources to help you not only find a scholarship but also apply for it and improve your chances of being selected!
There are also many other resources to help you find your scholarship. According to NerdWallet, many resources offer scholarship information such as:
- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Scholarships Search Tool
- Your school’s financial aid office
- Local community organizations, local businesses, religious organizations or civic groups
- Scholarships sponsored by a family member’s employer or your employer
- Scholarship databases such as Cappex.com, Scholly or The College Board
Once you have found the scholarship that suits you, carefully review what criteria go into the scholarship. While some scholarships are very easy to apply to, others require more work. Go through the submission process.
- Do you need to write an essay?
- Is there an application form that you need to fill out?
- Do you need to ask for letters of recommendation from former teachers and/or employers?
- Is there a scholarship deadline?
Some applications need to be handed into your school’s financial aid office, while others need to be scanned in, and still, others are supposed to be mailed. There aren’t any specific criteria for scholarship submission requirements or submission methods so be aware of how you complete your scholarship. And always have someone with an eye for detail review your application, essays, and any important additions!
By paying close attention to criteria, you greatly increase your chances of earning a scholarship. You will immediately stand out from students that may not follow directions correctly or forget to share information — and that does happen more than you might think.
Apply, Apply, Apply!
There isn’t a rule saying that you can only apply to one scholarship at a time, so get out and apply for those scholarships! Unfortunately, you will not get every scholarship that you apply for but that shouldn’t deter you. The more scholarships you apply to, the better the chances that you will be accepted.
They also say that practice makes perfect! Writing scholarship essays or submitting applications will become easier with time and practice.
Focus on Your Goals
Amid all your applications don’t forget about what inspires you. Focus on your education, improve your grades, help out in your community and hone your hobbies. Not only could this help you apply to other scholarships, but it also should remind you that you are you! Although scholarships are important, it is your goals and aspirations that set you apart from others.