Wow have times changed. When I was in high school looking for college scholarship, I literally sat in the guidance office for hours and hours. During that time I would scour through binders and binders of grants and scholarships. Then every application had to be completed on a typewriter. One mistake and bam – start again. Sure the type writer had white out but it was nothing like a backspace key on the computer. Mistakes were still very visible. The only real solution was to start over, take your time and do not make a mistake.
The world of applying for scholarships has changed just as drastically as technology has over the last several decades. A friend of mine who more recently had a child apply for college – was able to diligently apply for scholarships and have her student’s full college career paid for. It took great dedication on their part but it is possible and they are living proof.
I work in education (business) and I can tell you the concepts that I apply towards applying for local, state and federal grants for the school district, are the same concepts used when applying for scholarships. Using the reverse logic – when you become skilled at applying for scholarships, you have all the skills you need to apply for business grants.
Research grants and scholarships that may be available. There are many resources out there to help you find scholarships. Utilize all of them that you can find – community, local, business, state, federal etc…
- College websites
- High school counselors and advisors
- Social media
- Local businesses
- Areas of Interest such as:
- and more…
Read All Instructions Carefully
One of the most important things to do is read the instructions before you do anything. Read all of them and thoroughly. You want to make sure you can map out (in your mind or on paper), just what is needed, how much time you need and if there are any things that you need to gather that may not already be at your fingertips. If you rely on someone else meeting your timeline to provide information – do that FIRST! Trust me!
There are some things you are going to need over and over and probably for just about every application.
- Standardized test scores
- Financial aid forms
- Parent’s tax returns
- Essays – not a canned response. Personalize every essay
- Letters of recommendation (usually at least three)
- Proof needed to prove you are eligible for the scholarships
Double and Triple Check
You cannot check your work enough. Have your parents or a friend or even a counselor/teacher double check your application. Check for spelling, grammar, complete responses, deadlines etc… Insure that everything has been answered fully and to the best of your ability. Do not ever fib – if you don’t know an answer, it is best to not pretend you do. Everything should be legible. Nowadays almost everything is online so that eliminates a great deal of issues with penmanship. But anything that is handwritten should be legible.
Do Not Miss A Deadline
Make sure you know what the deadline is and do not miss it. They will hold firm to the deadline. If you have to physically drive the application to not be late – do so! If you are late, your application most likely will be ignored for not following the most basic requirement.
Keep copies of everything you do. You never want to get confused. You will also be more readily able to complete additional applications if you have the information at your fingertips. You also want to keep copies of any tracking for your mailing. You want to have proof that they received the documents in time – just in case a dispute ever arises.
Take your scholarship application search and process very seriously. There are many dollars at stake and they are yours for the taking if you approach the process like you will approach your career and your future.