Many years ago, when I was an English tutor at a local community college, a student asked me to help him fill out his scholarship application. He also asked one of the English teachers for her help. The scholarship he wanted offered an astounding $50,000! You might think he had been competing with thousands of other students for this opportunity, but he was only one of two students who applied.
Yes, the scholarship was for somebody who wanted to work in the field of geology, but the fact that only one other student applied mystified me. It shouldn’t have, I learned, because every year hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarship money fall by the wayside. Why? Because students don’t take advantage of them. Scholarships take time and effort and some students don’t want to expend the time and effort it takes to get one!
The problem with scholarships is that so few people know about them. Colleges don’t announce them, so most people don’t even know they exist. But your chances of getting one are pretty high, considering that so few people apply for them.
How do you find scholarships? ASK! Talk to a guidance counselor or a college financial aid counselor, or if you’re still in high school, talk to a high school counselor. Find out which scholarships are available and which ones could apply to you snd your situation. Scholarships are targeted to a specific audience. Whether you’ve just graduated or you’ve been out of school for 20 years, you should be able to find a scholarship that applies to you.
Some counselors might point you in the direction of a computer and let you run your own search, but they probably know which ones would be applicable to you personally. A little polite prodding might help.
When you get the application, read VERY CAREFULLY what is required of you. If the scholarship committee asks your opinion on something completely unrelated to the classes you want to take, ANSWER the question anyway. BE SPECIFIC. By avoiding what is requested of you, you eradicate your chance of getting the scholarship. If you don’t address every single issue raised in the scholarship application, YOU WON’T GET THE SCHOLARSHIP!
Make sure you use correct grammar and punctuation. If the scholarship wants your name centered on the first line in a 14-point bold font, center your name on the first line in a 14-point bold font! Seek the help of an English teacher or tutor if necessary. Above all, present a professional-looking application.
When that student who wanted the $50,000 scholarship came to me for editing, I paid attention, not only to his grammar and punctuation, but also to his responses. Did he address ever issue raised in the scholarship application? Was he specific? Yes! And guess what? He got the scholarship!
Can you use a little financial help with your education expenses? You might not get $50,000, or even $1,000, but just the process of applying for a scholarship increases your chances of getting one. And don’t forget to apply for grants too. Both are resources for money you won’t have to pay back!
Run a scholarship search today for the current year and the state in which you live. And don’t forget to ask for scholarship information from the school you want to attend. In the past, getting those applications completed by February 1st increased a students’s chances of getting a scholarship.