I’m often asked about the scholarship process and where to find this secret money. First, let me share the money is not so secret, in fact, the money is often in plain sight. Once you understand where to look, the key is to apply; often the challenge for students who have spent three years thinking, feeling, and talking all things college are pretty tapped out to now explore the “hidden money.”
I’m going to share 10 resources that will encourage your students to engage in the scholarship process earlier.
- Start this process in middle school or elementary school. It may sound crazy, but scholarships exist for all ages, backgrounds, careers, and majors. It won’t cause as much exhaustion and burnout as high school juniors or seniors experience.
- Create a separate email account for all things college, including scholarships. We are inundated with messages, and this will alleviate blurring personal lives with the cumbersome college admissions process, do this as early as 9th grade.
- Be selective with your scholarships when it comes to writing the essay; would you write a 5000-word essay for $100.00, probably not. I bet you’ll consider a 500-word essay for $1000.00 or more.
- Meet with your high school counselor or advisor to discuss the various resources available. Establishing relationships and networking are critical; for example, when scholarships land on a desk, they may immediately think of you since you have established a relationship.
- Never pay for a scholarship search.
- Update your resume and keep track of activities, hobbies, volunteerism, and awards from 9th grade. This makes it easier when specific dates and hours are needed for both scholarships and college applications.
- Ask for letters of recommendations in person, send thank you notes, and follow up once you receive an award with your recommender (s).
- Don’t rule out local organizations such as Rotary, Elks, VFW, Legions, churches, banks, credit unions, libraries, towns, and even YMCA’s.
- National scholarships are more competitive; consider Doodle for Google, Toyota, Burger King, Coca-Cola, Bauch & Laumb, etc. Someone wins the money!
- Just because you are considering a major in engineering does not mean you can’t apply for the poetry scholarship, or the cooking award, or maybe you gulf, read, or rescue animals.
Hang out in a bookstore or library and take notes from the several scholarship guides that break down awards by major, gender, location, etc. Lastly, research your local high school for a list of awards on their website; some of the local awards are not just for students who physically attend.