Tag Archives: Scholarship Search

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.