Category Archives: Scholarship Guide

The Leg Work of a Scholarship Search

While it may sound appealing to pay someone to do all of the research and documentation for a college scholarship search, it is perhaps best for the student and their parents to do the work themselves.

This is for several reasons; first only the student knows all of their own interests, activities, hobbies and relevant data. A typical scholarship search agency will ask about academic interests and career choices and may miss out on dozens, if not hundreds, of potential scholarship sources. For example, there are hundreds of civic organizations that make scholarship funds available to the children of their participating members. An agency may not take the time to ask for all of the relevant data.

A student should, however, make a comprehensive list of all the groups they and their parents belong to. Does Dad participate in a bowling league? Is he now, or was he ever a Scout Master? Is Mom a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution? Could she be? What about the student? Are they a member of 4-H? A list of all the groups and organizations will turn up dozens of scholarship opportunities.

What about the hobbies and interests of the parents and the student? Does the family watch NASCAR? Are they hikers that are members of a local or national naturalists group? Does anyone collect coins or stamps? Here too are hundreds of opportunities for college funding. Many local, state and national groups provide support to college students and their parents through prizes and scholarships.

What does the student do with this information? There are many free scholarship search engines on the internet, there are many publications that list annual scholarship opportunities and there is always the school guidance counselor who is aware of every local and state opportunity as well as the major national opportunities.

A second reason that a student and their parents should perform their own scholarship search involves family history. There are many groups that grant funds to people from specific backgrounds. For example, there are many Native American specific scholarships for students who can demonstrate their heritage and connection to a tribe or Nation.

Another reason a student should do all of the leg work for their scholarship search is to save money. Most search services will ask for a small fee, and with the cost of applications, materials and travel a college and scholarship search will all ready be taking a toll on a parent’s or household budget.

Finally, when a student performs their own scholarship search they are able to make realistic choices for application. They will know exactly which awards they qualify for, and which they do not. They can locate unique opportunities for themselves based on full knowledge of their parent’s and their own background and can find better success in receiving financial assistance.

Types of Awards from a Scholarship Search

It is very important for a student beginning a scholarship search to be aware that free money for college is available in the well known scholarships, as grants, as prizes and as forgivable loans.

Is there are big difference between these awards? Absolutely, and it will really payoff for a student who investigates each type of financial opportunity in their scholarship search.

All students developing a plan for paying their college expenses need to create a comprehensive list of those scholarships they will try to win. This listing should include the full name and mailing list of the agency, any contact names or information, telephone numbers and email addresses and the amount the group will provide to the student’s who win the funds. The student’s records should also accurately track all deadlines or dates that are relevant to each item on their list.

A well done scholarship search will provide a student with dozens of viable sources for college money. After these have been identified the student needs to only follow each program’s requirements.

To understand the types of awards available through a scholarship search it is a good idea to understand how most groups, schools and organizations view them:

• Scholarships are viewed as outright contributions to a student’s educational expenses. A scholarship will never need to be repaid and can be used for tuition or a student’s cost of living. Many scholarships will require a specific GPA (grade point average) or participation in a specific field of study or degree program. A student will usually be obliged to follow up with the organization or group that grants the funds.
• Prizes are cash rewards given for achievement and winners of competitions. These might include national writing competitions, local recognition for excellence in a sport, or may come from a contest such as the scholarship contest sponsored by the famous YouTube web site.
• Forgivable loans are more familiar than most people realize. Many military services provide forgivable loans for education in exchange for a specific period of military service by the student. Many volunteer organizations will also fund a portion of a student’s education and in return receive volunteer service from the student. There are also two fields – teaching and medicine – with great opportunities for loan forgiveness to students who practice or teach in certain areas after graduation.
• Fellowships and Grants are usually items given to graduate students. Fellowships cover the cost of living for a student working on a graduate level of research or work, and may assist with some tuition expenses. Grants traditionally go to graduate projects and cover all expenses that occur from a very specific project or work. They usually will not pay a student’s living expenses and must be documented and handled very methodically and in a highly organized fashion.

There are so many types of financial awards available, and a well thought out scholarship search will turn up some wonderful opportunities.

The Scholarship Search and the Guidance Office

Most students should begin their scholarship search in the guidance office of their high school or college. Here they can sit down with a professional counselor who can review the student’s academic career and personal life in a way that will reveal many opportunities for scholarship funding.

The guidance office is also privy to complete information about every single scholarship available in the area surrounding the school. For example, the secretaries of a guidance office will know exactly which civic organizations are making scholarships available to the area’s students. In fact the guidance office will probably be able to provide blank applications and lists of requirements for every scholarship available.

The guidance office is also a great resource for published and printed guides for national and corporate scholarship programs. They may even have a computer workstation with access to many free or online scholarship search programs and search engines.

When using these materials a student should all ready have examined their own set of skills, interests, hobbies and achievements to reveal as many scholarship possibilities as they can. By relying on a complete set of facts and data about a student the scholarship search will be much more effective.

The guidance office of a college or university will be able to assist any currently enrolled student to locate necessary funding for their upcoming semesters, and this can include scholarships, prizes, forgivable loan opportunities and even grants or fellowships. In fact some professors and department heads will assist their students with this task and may offer the kind of recommendations that will help the student win the award.

Whatever the current academic status of a student, high school or college, an adequate preparation is necessary for a scholarship search and success. Many guidance offices or counselors work with students to help them put together an excellent resource – a scholarship “packet”. Often these are thin binders with a comprehensive overview of the student illustrated inside.

These can be as colorful and creative as the student desires, or they can be a formal and low key document, but whatever the choice the packet must contain a full description of the student’s background, achievements and interests. The documents should be appropriate to the specific requirements of a scholarship program, but can also show how diverse or focused a student’s pursuits have been.

For each scholarship application the student should leave a space in their packet for a completed application and formal essay to be inserted. Each essay should be crafted to specifically address the scholarship committee, and to convince them of the student’s worthiness and appropriateness as the chosen winner. It is great to have the guidance counselor, a teacher or a mentor proof read each essay for good grammar and clarity.

Scholarships and the College Search

How do scholarships apply to a college search? Quite frankly it is important to consider “real world” earnings before investing in a college education. There are many fields of study which lead to excellent careers, but even the most promising fields can have incredibly low starting salaries. This can lead to tremendous financial hardship in a student’s early professional life.

To avoid this scenario many students seek scholarships to meet at least a portion of their educational expenses. In this way they can attend the school of their choice without worrying about carrying one hundred percent of the financial burden.

When beginning a college search students will usually analyze schools based on their own needs. This means they take location, setting, degree programs, student life and the student body, and expense all into consideration. By figuring scholarship monies into the college search a student may be able to include a school or two on their list of prospects that would have otherwise faced elimination due to cost.

Can a student really rely on scholarship funds? To a certain degree the answer is a definite “yes”. There are many civic and local organizations that make a habit of awarding every local resident who applies for funds. These smaller scholarships can easily enable a student to purchase their supplies and books with no out of pocket expense. Students should review a list of these “sure” rewards with their high school guidance counselors.

Apart from simply applying for many local, smaller scholarships other tips for winning a scholarship include:

• Letters of recommendation – scholarship committees of all kinds love to see a student receive acknowledgement and support from their teachers, counselors and community leaders. Most of these individuals are happy to help students from their area further their academic careers and gladly provide support in the form of recommendations.
• Community involvement – while being part of a religious group, community organization or school activity are rewarding on their own, there are some extra benefits to belonging to them. Many scholarship committees like to see such community dedication and know that their scholarship dollars are helping someone who returns the favor to their own community.
• Create scholarship “packets” for streamlined application – this means crafting an honest picture of the scholarship candidate including a nice photo, a “resume” detailing their academic career and all of their activities. It can also include a place for a letter specific to each application and copies of every letter of recommendation received by the student. Students should also try to keep a copy of their high school transcript, with a GPA notation in the packet as well.
• Finally, it really pays to have all materials reviewed by a professional. Ask a high school teacher, guidance counselor or mentor to read through all of the materials submitted to each scholarship committee. These people can offer some great advice, guidance or note where the materials could be improved.

A college search can be a great deal more fun and rewarding when a student knows that some of their expenses will be covered by the funds provided through the many scholarship opportunities available locally, throughout their home state and on a national level.

Opportunities in Scholarships

Billions of dollars in scholarships are available to hundreds of thousands of students each year, and for some they need only fill out an application to get the award. For other financial prizes, grants and scholarships there is a great deal of competition. It is helpful for a student hoping to fund their education, at least in part, through scholarships to investigate the opportunities available to them in a scholarship search.

It is also very important to remember that scholarships are not only for those with flawless or near perfect academic records, those who excel at sports or those in difficult financial situations. There are scholarships for every sort of student with every kind of interest.

There are even unique scholarships, such as the one for students who can document a family connection to any of the original signers of the declaration of independence (Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration) or for avid coin collectors (American Numismatic Society). It takes only a bit of research and organization in order to receive some extremely generous and helpful financial support for college expenses.

Many students and families beginning a scholarship search look to the college or university of choice for scholarship funds and awards. They should also be looking at local and national civic organizations – such as the Jaycees and Lion’s Clubs. They could take a look into a National Merit scholarship or special prize. There is an amazing assortment of local, state, and national scholarships specifically for students who demonstrate academic achievement, but also for many other reasons.

There are hundreds of local businesses, organizations, agencies and special interest groups that make scholarship funds available. Many large corporations sponsor a scholarship program for the dependents of their employees, and even for the employees themselves. It just takes some commitment and research to find all of the opportunities available.

Local and national organizations will usually have branches or clubs. For example the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) have local branches and a national web site with information about all of their scholarship programs and a search engine to find local branches. These large groups tend to have a great many opportunities for students of all levels of achievement and performance, and some make grants and scholarships to students who participate in certain activities or who volunteer with a branch of their organization on a regular basis.

Simply having a parent who works for a company, agency or corporation may provide some critical educational funding. For example large employers such as Coca Cola, IBM and other well known companies regularly make scholarships available to the children of their employees.

One of the best ways to conduct a successful and rewarding scholarship search is to visit the guidance counselor or guidance office in a student’s high school. They will have many printed guides and manuals listing all of the opportunities for students in the area.

Hints for a Successful Scholarship Search

Many students think that they can only receive a scholarship if they show particular strength in an athletic or academic area, or if they have a strong financial need. This is not the case. There are millions of scholarship awards, prizes, grants, fellowships and forgivable loan programs that make over eight billion dollars available to students each and every year!

A student can do a scholarship search based on almost any fact about themselves. Beginning with a good search engine or scholarship resource, a student can look for a scholarship that is granted for almost any reason. Like to skateboard? Type that in and find the results. It will be quite surprising. Left handed? There is a scholarship program for that as well. Are you a champion at the air guitar? Guess what…there are funds for capturing yourself on film during a great performance.

There are thousands of other scholarships available for far more “serious” achievements, but they don’t necessarily go just to the students in the “top” of a graduating or enrolled class. There are hundreds of writing competitions that make tidy awards to the winners, there are athletic scholarships for those that have skills in less traditional sports such as full scholarships for golf caddies, and incredible financial support for champion level bowlers.

Currently, a scholarship search should include a person’s activities in large organizations, such as environmental groups that offer “green” scholarships. There are some large, and well known, corporations that actively seek out new talent through such scholarship campaigns and contests. For example, NASA, Intel, and Mazda look for science, mathematical, engineering and other types of majors to support and then recruit.

Clearly it benefits a student performing a scholarship search to take some time to really consider their entire life, including their summer or part time jobs, religious affiliations, community or volunteer work, and even hobbies. For example, there are nice scholarship awards for college students that have worked in any part of the ice cream industry. This could mean that spending the summer at a scoop shop or driving an ice cream truck may provide academic funding.

There are also many people who receive financial support for their college career from the organization they belong to as part of a hobby. For example the Numismatic Society gives members enrolled in college the opportunity to apply for scholarship funds.

Most students should take the time to sit down with their school’s guidance counselor to do a very thorough scholarship search based on all available information. A guidance counselor will know the questions to ask and what lines of inquiry to pursue and may turn up some funding that a student never anticipated.

Millions of dollars in scholarships wait for applicants each year, and many of them simply require an application to grant the funds. While a scholarship search may require a bit of time and effort, the rewards are well worth it!

Free Money and the Scholarship Search

Is there really “free money” for college students? Absolutely there are literally thousands of opportunities for high school and college students to find educational funding. It only requires a dedicated scholarship search to be performed on a regular or annual basis.

A good scholarship search will take place on an ongoing basis throughout the year rather than one annual search. Many groups, organizations, businesses and schools happily award money to students each year. Most will require an application, an essay and some sort of demonstration as to academic, financial or general worthiness. This can require some significant documentation and most students are encouraged to create a “scrap book” of their achievements, activities and interests.

It is estimated that there are approximately 1.5 million potential scholarship awards available, with an estimated value of approximately eight billion dollars. These funds can come from community groups such as fire departments and garden clubs, they can come from national organizations such as the Daughters of the American Revolution or the Lion’s Club, and they can come from schools, colleges or universities based on sports or academic performance or from a student’s own merit.

It takes a great deal of time and research to perform a scholarship search and the most organized students are the ones that see the best results. To be adequately prepared a student should create a spreadsheet or written worksheet naming all of the scholarships they have or will apply for, they should then note all critical deadlines or significant dates for each. They should keep track of all the contact information or any relevant notes as well.

Students can find a tremendous amount of assistance with a scholarship search from their school guidance counselor or guidance office. Here they can review all local scholarship opportunities, and often get the entire application packet, and find suggestions and support from the staff.

One tool many successful scholarship searchers employ is a book or packet itemizing their many interests, achievements or activities. This could have newspaper clippings about sporting events where a student displayed remarkable skill or set a school record. It could contain documents pertaining to community service, such as hospital volunteerism, and it could show a student’s particular dedication or interest in their particular field of study such as a history of working with children for a student in a teaching program.

All scholarship applications will require an essay of some sort that expresses the student’s need, the reasons they should receive the money and may ask for specific answers to questions relating to the agency giving the funds. A “stock” or “generic” essay should never be used by a student seeking funds. It is important to take the time to honestly assess each group giving a scholarship and to convey to them, through a well-written essay, why the applicant should receive the assistance. It is also a good idea to find a counselor, teacher or mentor who will review essays for grammar, weaknesses or flaws.

Everyone should do a Scholarship Search

So many students, and even their parents, don’t believe they should dedicate the time and effort to a scholarship search or applications because the student did not have a high profile academic or school career. Sadly this is a bad decision. There are almost two million options for scholarships, prizes, grants and forgivable loans available – totaling in the area of eight billion dollars in annual awards.

This means that there is literally an option for almost any student. However this does not mean that the billions of dollars lie around unclaimed each year. In fact, scholarship applications are becoming more and more competitive, and students are now required to begin thinking “outside the box” when it comes to their essays and applications.

Any scholarships that are not awarded each year are simply not applied for, and this equates to greater opportunity for students who are actively seeking the kind of financial support available through scholarships, prizes and forgivable loans.

While the competition for scholarships is quite stiff, a creative scholarship search will turn up some unique and unusual groups and organizations making money available to students. For example, a student and their parents should look at the talents, achievements, activities, interests and skills of the student as a method of locating funding opportunities. Churches and synagogues, hospitals, civic organizations and even businesses and individuals are making scholarships available for unusual students.

This means that while the “top” performing students and athletes are lining up to take their chances at the biggest and largest scholarship dollars, other less prominent students will have a chance to “wow” the scholarship committees of smaller or more specific groups. For example, there are industry specific groups that do not reward high levels of academic achievement, but instead give funding to students with a unique field of study or set of interests. This could mean that a fashion design student can get a scholarship from a textile group or fabric manufacturing company.

The reverse is also important to remember – academic excellence is no guarantee for specific scholarship awards. A student, who is at the top of their class and has achieved great success in their high school career, may count only on the biggest or most well-known scholarships. They may however be disappointed when they come up against a national pool of candidates who are equally matched to their level of achievement. Such a student should also do a full scholarship search as described above, and take advantage of any and every unique or unusual opportunity for academic financial support and reward.

Finally, a student and their parents must realize that a thorough scholarship search will turn up all of the most viable opportunities, but even a well done search and beautifully executed applications and essays are no guarantee of funding. They should never hesitate to work with a school loan officer to supplement the money they will need to pay for their student’s education. There are currently no scholarships that are negatively impacted by the use of loans to pay for school, and applying for a loan will not affect anyone’s chances at winning numerous scholarships.

Do What You Want in a Scholarship Search

There are many traditional methods of getting scholarships and funding for college pursuits. With almost two million scholarship programs available at any given time, offering up nearly eight billion dollars in awards, the likelihood of winning some financial support is pretty high.

So what if you don’t exactly have a flawless academic record? There are still hundreds of options open for you to use to get some scholarship funds. A good scholarship search will take into consideration every single interest or skill that you have, and try to find a way to put them to good use towards college cash.

It is important to remember that while scholarships are never to be repaid, there are still some criteria the student is expected to uphold in order to meet the rules of the scholarship committee or granting agency. For example, a student who states they are in an astronomy degree program when they are in a literature program will find themselves quickly in trouble with a group that awards funding to them. So, as in everything else in life, “honesty is the best policy”.

What if I am a general studies or undecided student? That is still just fine with thousands of scholarship providers. Many simply want to support a student and help them meet their educational ambitions in any way they can.

Currently there are dozens of unusual and highly entertaining methods of winning a scholarship prize. For example there is the “Air Guitar Superstar Scholarship” in which a photograph or thirty second video of an air guitar champion can win a student a five hundred dollar scholarship to use towards their cost of living, school supplies or tuition.

There are scholarships that promote activities such as the “Let’s Get Creative! Short Story and Poetry Scholarship”, the “Norman S. Baldwin Fishery Science Scholarship”, and the “National Garden Clubs, Inc.” scholarship programs. Each of these awards will be given to a student who demonstrates skill and interest in the particular focus of the agency granting the funds. None of them require academic excellence or any particular level of achievement.

There are some scholarships created by major corporations as a way of both supporting students and marketing products, these will often ask for students to contribute slogans or images, or even design a complete advertisement. Currently there is the “Who Would Your Pet Vote For?” scholarship campaign by PawsConnect.com, there is the “Honest Foods” scholarship that asks students to design an advertisement as their application and there is the “Brickfish – Why Blu? Scholarship” asking students to submit an original poster, ad or video about the Blu-ray technology.

Finally there are some unique scholarship programs that simply ask the student to explain why they deserve the financial support of the scholarship, and one of the most straightforward is the “Top Ten List Scholarship” which simply asks the candidate to give the “top ten” reasons they should have the funds.

Creating the Best Essay after a Scholarship Search

While the application process for colleges and universities may begin to feel like a never ending repetition of information such as the social security number, birth date, degree program, high school grade point average and other factors about a student, the essay for a scholarship must be an individualized effort.

This means that in order to have the strongest chances for winning a scholarship the essay must be unique, expressive, sincere and well written. A well done scholarship search will turn up every type of scholarship, prize, grant or forgivable loan opportunity available to a student. This may mean that a student will be crafting essays about everything from bowling to biology, or even something like their personal dedication to the career path of their choice.

It is critical that the scholarship search be conducted in a manner that addresses the following:

• Hobbies
• Activities
• Sports participation
• Volunteerism
• Academic and athletic achievement
• Interests of the student
• Family history and/or ethnicity
• Any disabilities of the student
• Parents employers

Only by itemizing these specific facts about a student can an accurate scholarship search be done. After the list of potential scholarship providers is created the student should immediately create a master list of all application deadlines and other relevant information. Many students build a spreadsheet of their scholarship possibilities and check in on a weekly basis.

When crafting an essay a student should be fully aware of the reason the award will be made. For example, if a parent’s employer makes scholarships available the student must express their commitment to seeing their education to the end, what they hope to do with their training and acknowledge their debt to their parents for their support. If, however, the essay is for a prize given by a sports group, the student must itemize their own achievements in the sport and also express where they intend to go with their college degree.

Many students create a “generic” packet or binder for each scholarship application. This is a great idea because it reveals a tremendous amount of information about the student, documents their personal history, interests, achievements and can allow the student to reserve an area for customized information. Many students divide their binders into sections with newspaper clippings or copies of documents that discuss their achievement or dedication to a group or organization included. Some packets will include a photograph of the student along with a sort of “resume” that itemizes their entire academic career.

When it is time for a student to submit an application they can fill out all of the appropriate paper work and include a binder or packet with their essay and information. This will show the scholarship committee the level or organization, commitment and ambition a student has, and that they will bring to their college experience.