Scholarships are essentially free money to help finance your college education. Regardless of your family's financial need, any student can and should apply for it. There are thousands of regional and national scholarships available to students every year. And there is a scholarship for practically everyone! Many colleges have their own scholarships awarded to admitted students each year. These scholarships are part of the application process.
While many scholarships are awarded for academic ability (merit) or athletic ability, there are a huge number of scholarships for service, talents, and interests. Plus, there are a number of obscure scholarships for things like: being left-handed, having a certain last name, or being exceptionally tall or short. All these are out there, but it is up to you to find them and apply.
You can treat scholarship research and applications like a part-time job. Only you get paid later...but a lot more. Think about it this way: If you spend 40 hours searching and applying for it during your senior year and you end of getting $5,000 worth of scholarship money, you have earned $125 an hour! Begin the process as early as possible and keep going until you leave for college.
Focus on scholarships that fit your personal strengths, talents, and interests. If you carefully identify it where you are a good "match" it is much more likely you will be awarded that money. Put your focus on local and regional scholarships. They may hold smaller dollar amounts, but often have much less competition. National scholarships are fantastic, but due to the high volume of applicants, it is very unlikely you will be awarded them.
Here are our best tips on how to find college scholarships:
Search Smart: The Internet is a fantastic resource for finding it locally and nationally. Use online sites to find scholarships that fit your personal profile. Narrow the list by focusing on local scholarships (as they typically have less applicants) and scholarships that best fit your profile.
Be Specific in Your Search: In addition to using scholarship search engines, we recommend searching for local scholarships with specific Google searches. Try a search with your talent/interest and location included:
Example: college scholarship + Violin + San Diego
Utilize Your High School's Scholarships: Check with your high school's college center to see if they have a list of scholarship opportunities. This is sometimes the best place to find local scholarships. Is your high school lacking for scholarship resources? Take advantage of the great work of other local high schools. Try visiting their college centers or checking their websites for lists of scholarships that you could win.
The author writes for Acceptly.com, which is an online tool to help with college prep.