How To Find Scholarships
When you’re looking to find scholarships it can be really difficult especially if you’re looking for smaller scholarships. There are large scholarships websites such as:
Those websites can be useful. However, they are riddled with ads and they mainly have sweepstakes and different ad scholarships. Like you’re just signing up for their mailing list and you’re not really applying based on any kind of merit. I’ve never met somebody who’s won one of those sweepstake scholarships so look for the actual legitimate scholarships that have an application process. Sometimes a simple Google search is really your best friend. I would highly recommend searching “wherever you’re from then scholarship” or “whatever you’re interested in then scholarship” and make sure you have undergrad there in your search because sometimes you’ll get grad school scholarships (scholarships you’re not necessarily eligible for). Google is a great resource and so are those websites sometimes.
There are a lot of different options for finding those large big-ticket scholarships that are really hard to get. Smaller scholarships are much harder to find. It’s best to go to your guidance office at school to see if your school knows of any local scholarships that are going out. Usually, local scholarship organizations will inform schools, so if your high school sends out a student newsletter via email to students, make sure you are looking at the newsletter for scholarships.
Try to find scholarships to apply to before your senior fall and make sure that you’re applying for scholarships in your senior fall. A lot of scholarships will have deadlines right around the same time that colleges have their deadlines and if you miss those you can’t make them up. You have to make sure you make those deadlines. Keep a Google Sheet or a Google Doc of the scholarships you want to apply to and be conscious of when those deadlines are coming up and which scholarships you’re eligible for.
In order to win a lot of scholarship money, you want to apply for a lot of scholarships. Apply to every single scholarship that you find that you are eligible for. It’s really important to apply to a wide variety of scholarships whether it be your major, your background, or the large scholarships vs the local and small scholarships. It’s definitely easier to win local scholarships.
Make sure you keep your teachers and counselors up to date if you need letters of recommendation because it can be really hard for a counselor who has a lot of students to make sure they get that recommendation in on time, so be courteous to them, give them time to do those recommendations and be courteous to yourself and give yourself time to do those applications because they can ask a lot of questions and it’s really important that you are thorough in your answers.
Another tip is to make sure you display your whole self in your application. Make sure you’re not leaving out things and when they ask you “Why should you win this scholarship?” tell them about all the things you love and the things you’re passionate about and all the amazing things that you do because if you don’t someone else will so you need to boast about yourself a little bit. Lastly, make sure that when you go into any situation whether it be an interview for a scholarship or essay questions for one that you have at least 3 things about yourself that are essential for understanding who you are. The last tip is to go into exact detail about the things you love. Don’t be brief. Don’t say I just enjoy doing this one thing. Make sure that you actually detail out what you do, why you enjoy it, and the things you really truly love about it.
The different types of scholarships
Scholarships can be divided into 3 categories
- Institutional scholarships – these come from the school themselves. They can be both merit and need-based. Some schools offer both or only one of those types of aid. Merit-based aid means aid that is awarded to you for academic and/or extracurricular achievement. Specific things to watch out for is if your colleges meet 100% of need and if they meet 100% of need without loans. Some schools they’ll say like they’ll cover 100% of your demonstrated need but they’ll add in about 6,000 dollars of loans which is much different than a school that will cover 100% of need and zero loans so be sure to watch out for the schools on your list that do that, schools that offer merit and schools that offer need-based scholarships.
- Major national scholarships – Major national scholarships are really hard to get. One example of one is the Coca-Cola Scholarship. About 93,000 people apply and only 150 are selected every year to win the scholarship. Major national scholarships can be divided into some categories as well. The first one is merit-only-based scholarships. Those are ones like Coca Cola which don’t take into account income or background when evaluating your application. The next one would be need plus merit which means they’re looking at your family background, your access to resources, as well as your academics and other merits. These major national scholarships tend to offer a lot more money than the next category which is:
- Local/regional scholarships – These are typically smaller sums of money and they come from local organizations such as the Lions Clubs and Elks Clubs, and Kiwanis.
- Demographic-based + merit scholarships – Demographic as in ethnicity, as in intended major, but it’s based on fitting a certain criteria background plus merit as well.
Note: Every single scholarship, just about, except for institutional scholarships that are based on need, always take into account merit, on some sort of scale. Of course, they consider other things if you’re looking at one that’s need-based, but they’re going to choose the kids who demonstrate the most need and the most merit.
Help for international students wanting to find scholarships
The website edupass.org is dedicated to students looking to study in the United States from other countries. I haven’t used it myself but it seems like it has some really useful resources along with a list of scholarships for international students looking to study in the US.
International students are eligible, many times, for merit scholarships at state schools. A lot of the top schools like the Ivies don’t give out merit scholarships. Everybody there is smart so if they did they’d be run dry, but state schools like the University of Colorado do give merit scholarships to out-of-state students and other schools can give it to international students as well. Another note is that if you are applying for financial aid at any school in the US, be aware it might switch you over to a need-aware process. For students in the US, many schools like Harvard and Stanford are need-blind to finances so if I needed a lot of money to attend their school they wouldn’t take that into account when they’re admitting me to their college. For international students, many times that process switches and it becomes need-aware meaning that if you are looking for financial aid at those schools it does contribute to whether or not you get into that school. Make sure that, even if you are a US student, you’re looking to see if the schools you are applying to are need-aware or need-blind, if they give good financial aid, and just all of the above like merit aid and need-based aid.
Also, use the net price calculator on all of your schools. Schools are required to have a net price calculator on their website so go and search up like “Stanford net price calculator” and you’ll get a general idea of what you’ll pay to attend that school with their institutional scholarships not taking into account outside scholarships.
Other useful links:
There is a master list of internships for high school students on the home page horizonworldwide.org.
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