As high school seniors start to receive acceptance letters and financial aid offers, they will sometimes notice they have been awarded a scholarship by a particular college. This may be based on need or merit, athletic abilities, or the major the student is planning to pursue. These can be quite substantial, and are often the tipping point in favor of one college over another. In most cases, the student has not done any additional work outside their usual academic or extracurricular activities to apply for these scholarships.
But there are many, many other private scholarships offered by corporations, individuals and philanthropic organizations which do require the student to put in a certain amount of effort. They vary in size, criteria and application effort, but those you win can make the difference in being able to afford a certain college. With so many potential options, here are some steps you can take to increase your odds of winning scholarships:
- Apply!! Obviously you can’t win a scholarship if you don’t apply for it. Some students get overwhelmed, or feel there are no scholarships suited to them, so they don’t even think about applying. But, the truth is that there are scholarships for every type of student, and you just might be the one that catches their eye!
- Watch Deadlines! As with everything else in life, scholarships have deadlines. Some are in November and December, but others have deadlines throughout the year. Even if you invested all your time on college and financial aid applications, there should be time now to find quality scholarship opportunities.
- Apply to Those Where You Can Stand Out! Don’t just apply to random scholarships, hoping for the best. Take time to assess your abilities, and find scholarships where you might be a great match. Then be sure to present yourself in the best possible light so your excellence stands out!
- Read the Directions! Sometimes a student will miss out on a perfect scholarship opportunity, due to an unnecessary oversight. Read the directions, watch the deadlines, and make sure you submit all requirements exactly as specified. You might need letters of recommendation, so be sure to have a couple of people in mind that you can ask. Some might want several copies of your application, or you might have to apply online and upload a photo or video. Don’t diminish your own chances by failing to follow instructions.
- Don’t Overlook Small or Local Opportunities! While large scholarships certainly seem more attractive, the competition might be intense. Increase your odds by adding a few, smaller local scholarship opportunities into the mix. You could be a big fish in a small pond, and some of your local contacts might be in a position to help.
If you need help increasing your odds of winning great college scholarships, the three-month CFAA Scholarship Program helps you locate potential scholarship opportunities that are personalized to your background and capabilities, and then efficiently organizes your application efforts.