Although COVID-19 caused most in-person high school graduations to be cancelled this year, one of the most uplifting moments during that ceremony usually occurs when scholarship award announcements are made. The majority of parents, friends and classmates applaud admiringly as the school announces that its students have received millions of dollars in crucial financial support.
But some students sit there in shock, wondering why they were not as “lucky” as their classmates. Although it is true that some colleges award scholarships based on merit or need, there are many other scholarships out there which are simply a matter of good old-fashioned hard work. Here are the top tips for finding scholarships so that today’s rising high school seniors won’t have to sit through graduation next May or June watching their fellow graduates “get all the breaks”:
• “You have to be in it to win it”: That may be the tag line for one of the country’s lotteries, but the sentiment still applies to scholarships. Don’t just sit there and hope that your college awards you enough money to cover tuition, room and board, and all your expenses. Go out there yourself and be aggressive about looking for independent scholarships on your own. Start early and allot plenty of time to the scholarship research and application process.
• “Reach out and touch someone”: This is another big jingle hit, but keep it in mind for your scholarship search, too. Your generation is the master of the social universe, so use it to your advantage. Reach out to your mentors, coaches and advisors for letters of recommendation. Ask them if they know of any available scholarship opportunities. Expand your circle of influence to find others with similar interests as yours who can hook you up with unique scholarship opportunities.
• “A lot of littles make a lot”: Well, I really just made that one up because I couldn’t find a jingle along those lines. What it means, though, is that you should not overlook some of the smaller scholarship programs. You certainly want to go for a few bigger scholarships, but be aware that there is a lot more competition for them. Mix in a number of “smaller” scholarship opportunities where the competition will be less intense. If you can score a few of these, you might find that you suddenly have a few thousand dollars more in your college piggy bank.
• “Just do it”: This is a thought that is not just for sneakers. Finding scholarships can be a challenge, and you will probably not get more scholarships than you do get. But, what if you only get one and it is the one you need?
Don’t be one of the students sitting at your graduation next year applauding others who won scholarships. Instead, you can be one of the people that others are admiring. Start now with the three-month CFAA Scholarship Program. You’ll learn to locate appropriate scholarship opportunities and organize your scholarship application process for results.