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Scholarship Advice for Everyone

Regardless of whether you are planning to take out loans for college, pay your own way through, or have relatives picking up the bill, it never hurts to have a little extra money around. With the sheer number of scholarships that are floating around, there’s no excuse not to apply for them. If it seems intimidating, though, here are some strategies you can use to make the process a little easier on yourself.

See a counselor

Your first step should be to go see a college counselor. Most high schools will have a college and career center on campus, staffed by such a counselor. These counselors are one of the best resources you have in your search because they spend a good amount of their time finding new scholarships for students. Often, their offices are filled with file cabinets, albums, and magazines of scholarships waiting for students to find them. Also, once counselors become more familiar with you, they may be able to direct you to scholarships more specific to your situation or let you know if any new scholarships come in. Advisors in college financial aid centers should have the same or similar resources. They will also know of any school-specific scholarships you are eligible for.

Go after all opportunities you can

Whether you are applying for $50 or $5000, you should always apply for scholarships you are eligible for. It is easy to steer away from small scholarships when so many larger prizes are in sight. However, even if it is enough for just one textbook, getting $50 for an essay is still a nice payoff.

Use a variety of search methods

The convenience of using online scholarship databases is attractive, but don’t let these sites be your only search methods. The scholarships posted there pass by thousands of eyes, and the sheer number of applicants limits your chances of winning them. However, there are a number of other sources that may not post their scholarships as broadly:

  • Check with your employer or a relative’s employer about company scholarship eligibility.
  • Libraries and book stores carry hefty catalogues of scholarships that may not all be posted online.
  • Local organizations may send their scholarships straight to high school and college counselors (another reason to pay them a visit!).
  • Check with any groups or organizations you are a member of.

Jot down your accomplishments

Keep a list of noteworthy accomplishments you’ve made. These can be volunteer experiences, awards, jobs, certificates, nominations, etc. Include relevant dates, descriptions, supervisor comments and contact info, and recommendations you have received. Having all this information in one place will save you a lot of grief when you are trying to draw from your experiences for an essay.

Note: Any “scholarship” that requires a payment or a submission of credit card information is most likely a scam.