The scholarship search can be intimidating. The most popular online scholarships searches, like FastWeb, force you to wade through thousands of worthless scholarships. They are not worthless because they are scams, rather they are worthless because they are not personalized. In fact, in my five years working in Higher Ed I have never met ANYONE who has won a scholarship through FastWeb. Obviously people do win these scholarships, but the chance of you winning a scholarship found through FastWeb is very low.
I highly recommend searching locally for your scholarships. I have written in length about the benefits of this in the past. Your chances of winning increase drastically when the applicant pool drops from thousands of students to less than 50 for most local scholarships.
Once you have gathered a list of scholarships that you wish to apply for, you have to start the actual application process. This process can also be intimidating, but it does not have to do.
How to Dominate Scholarship Applications
I have compiled a list of the top 8 ways to dominate your scholarship applications and ensure that you maximize your chances of winning as many scholarships as you apply for.
- Start early!! Almost every scholarship has a deadline and many scholarships give priority to applications submitted early.
- Compile a list of accomplishments, awards, professional experience, education credentials, and volunteer organizations. Having this list handy will save you many hours during the application process since nearly every application will ask for this information.
- Be aggressive! Scholarships are designed to reward deserving and persistent students who are willing to “do what it takes” to further their education. A scholarship committee is not impressed by a “less than your best” effort.
- Identify and contact at least three people who would be willing to write an impressive recommendation letter on your behalf.
- Apply for every scholarship for which you are eligible.
- Follow up! Don’t let your scholarship application slip through the cracks. Scholarship committees will also appreciate the dedication you show in your future endeavors.
- Be organized! This is great time to improve your organizational skills. Make sure to keep track of all deadlines, signatures, recommendation letters, and any necessary follow-up questions from a scholarship organization.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of applying for scholarships. After all, a successful scholarship search could land you with a free ride and money to spare!
The Bottom Line
Searching and applying for scholarships is not easy. If it were, everyone would have a full-ride to college.
FastWeb likes to say that there are millions of dollars in unused scholarships each year. I don’t believe this, but I do know that there are many scholarships which do not receive many quality applications and are forced to award their money to a less than stellar student. This is where you have an opportunity to swoop in, submit an impressive application, and win a scholarship over your classmates.
Following the above 8 tips will give you your best chance of conducting a scholarship search that is sue to land you some funds to help pay for college.