After you get organized to make the scholarship process easy, you’re probably wondering where to find all of those scholarships and how to figure out which are worth the time and effort. You may have been to one or many scholarship sites and applied for a bunch of them but heard nothing back. While scholarship websites may be one stop on your journey, they shouldn’t be the first stop and aren’t likely to bring the most success.
The old adage “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is” definitely applies to scholarships. Some of the ‘no essay’ or ‘one click’ scholarships are mainly a way for some commercial enterprises to build up their contact list. For this reason, you may want to create a new email address that you only use for this project. That way, you won’t have your regular in-box flooded with random spam emails. On the other hand, you have to remember to check that new in-box frequently.
Start With Your High School Guidance Office Or Website
Most schools have a place to store scholarship information. Local scholarships are likely to contact local high schools to get their scholarship information in the hands of local students. Applying to local scholarships means that you’re likely competing against fewer students. You should locate the guidance list of scholarships and make a note on your calendar to check it every couple of weeks so, as new scholarships are added, you’ll be able to add the relevant ones to your list.
Check Your State’s Department of Education
A lot of states have some type of state sponsored scholarship program. There may be multiple scholarships that are part of the program in addition to the most popular ones that everyone talks about. Check your state’s site and make sure you add these to your list.
Many companies have a scholarship program for employees and their families. Check with your employer, your parents’ employers, and that of other family members. You may also want to let it be known that you’re in the market for scholarships so that friends can let you know when they see an opportunity you can apply for.
Offering help with the cost of college is a more and more popular employee benefit. Looking for a job specifically because of such an offer is one way to plan to pay a portion of your college bill.
For many, Google is going to be your best friend for finding scholarships. Make a search list with every possible combination using the ideas below as a guide and then search them systematically:
Your town/city/county community foundation scholarship
Local Elk/Rotary Clubs and other organizations
Churches and religious organizations like The Knights of Columbus and St. Vincent de Paul
Hobbies/Traits/Interests/Subject Area - Scholarships and Cash Awards
Professional organizations for your possible careers
Look for hashtags using the same words used in your google searches
Find pages pertaining to scholarships, college planning, career, major
Trusted websites or other lists
College Aid Pro is the list 21Finance (The College Cost And Planning Solution) has access to with between 5,000 and 10,000 searchable scholarships
Once you’ve gone through all of these sources thoroughly, one at a time, you will probably have a good list to last you for quite a while. You will likely find more scholarships by going through this process multiple times over four years.
Don’t forget to keep track of all scholarships you can apply to this year plus the ones you may be eligible for in future years.
Next up - I’ll cover what is generally included in a scholarship application and how you can boost your chances of winning.