Everyone knows how expensive college can be. Along with the expected high tuition and housing fees, students are also faced with book, food and even Uber expenses. One can’t help but reach a point of complete financial desperation from all the overwhelming charges. While students can earn money from jobs and paid internships, college debt is more than minimum wage and seasonal employment can accommodate.
So, how can you handle these dramatic, excessive costs that seem impossible to pay? The answer lies within scholarships. Companies and foundations give funds to deserving students based on merit, essays or volunteer experience. The organizations offer hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars to selected candidates. However, attaining these large funds is draining, and it requires hard work. Here are six tips for you if you decide to go through the scholarship process.
1. Find the Right Resources
The first step to earning scholarships is utilizing the best search engines and resources. Even though FastWeb is the most well-known website, its scholarships are hard to win because of its large applicant pool. Instead, use Unigo, which suggests less popular scholarships that will have a smaller applicant pool. There are also many books with scholarship ideas to choose from, such as “The Ultimate Scholarship Book.”
Once you find the most credible resources for financial opportunities, you will then increase your chances of winning and being able to pay for college. Since the search for a scholarship is very personalized, there aren’t any steps set in stone for you to follow, but, these resources will allow you to begin the process and pave your own path to success.
2. Know What Scholarships Work for You
It can be incredibly overwhelming to scroll through dozens of scholarships. Although you may want to apply to each one you come across, it’s wise to favor the ones that have opportunities that you relate with the most.
If you are interested in music, then you should apply to scholarships that pertain to your ability and experience. Or, if you are an advocate for rescue animals, then you can Google rescue charities that may be offering scholarships.
It’s a good idea to first make a list of your hobbies and interests and then search for scholarships that correlate with such topics. Once you find your scholarship “niche,” then you will be able to actually enjoy the application process and demonstrate your passion within your essays.
3. Be Honest and Personal
The best way to stand out in the scholarship process is to be yourself. In your application essay, be sure to mention personal details about yourself as well as significant experiences that have shaped your character. When you choose to be honest and vulnerable, your essay is different and unique compared to other applicants’ factual pieces.
Scholarship judges will not see you as just an applicant but rather as an actual human being. Introducing yourself as a person rather than as an application form will make for a more memorable impression on the scholarship board, thus increasing your chances of earning money in return. In addition, being vulnerable will also allow you to reflect on yourself and perhaps learn more about who you are.
4. Edit, Edit, Edit!
Most scholarships require essays, so it’s important to thoroughly edit your responses in order to earn the main prize. Although this step may be extremely tedious, it is necessary to invest time in your applications so that you can present your best work. After writing your first draft, take a break and then come back after at least twenty minutes.
Make structural, content and grammatical edits on your paper, as you want to make sure that your response is clear and professional. However, it is also important to include your own personal style so that you show off your voice to the scholarship boards; editing your papers allows you to obtain this voice and speak boldly to the judges.
5. Celebrate Your Accomplishments
Winning a scholarship is a big deal, and you should treat it like it is. When you find out that you received an award, treat yourself with a nice dinner or a relaxing night at home. After all of the writing and searching, your hard work has paid off and has proved to be worth it after all of this time. Earning money because of your hard work brings a strong sense of purpose and accomplishment, and you have helped yourself pay for a valuable education.
You are not only developing a strong sense of independence, but winning a scholarship will also increase the level of confidence you have in yourself and your own abilities. So get some nice Italian food or binge-watch “Gossip Girl” for a little bit. Take a break from your scholarship pursuit and remind yourself that you are fighting for your future and pushing yourself in order to succeed.
6. Don’t Give Up
The scholarship process is grueling and hard, since you can go through long periods of hard work with little rewards. It can be challenging to give your all for a scholarship and find out that you didn’t get it. Yet, at the same time, going through such frustrations develops endurance and character. By continuing to search for scholarships and write essays, you are improving your perseverance and following through with your decisions.
Rather than giving up because the process is hard, you are pushing through it and maintaining hope that your hard work will one day pay off. Having this kind of mindset is essential for mastering the scholarship process, since when you least expect it you will reap your reward one day. When you feel like giving up, just remember that you are investing in your college education and thus your future. The money you are applying for is significant, and it will only further your career opportunities and aspirations. Yes, the process is tedious and frustrating, but when you are able to help pay for tuition, you will be grateful that you pushed through it.