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.

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