Getting great scholarships can make a tremendous difference in your life after graduation. The higher the scholarship you win (or simply the more scholarships you win period), the lesser the loan you have to take out, and the faster you will be able to repay it. All of this starts with finding great scholarships. With so much at stake, it pays to use every resource at your disposal to get the highest possible scholarship amount, whether you get it through one huge opportunity or several smaller ones.
Put these tips, tricks, and hacks to good use when you are looking for scholarship opportunities.
Start Early & Create A Consistent Schedule
It’s all too easy to let time slip away from you. You think you’ll start your scholarship tomorrow or next week but things happen and your search keeps getting postponed. Before you know it, you’ve missed the window to apply to a few opportunities that you were well-qualified for and some deadlines would have already passed. The best way to stay on top of your scholarship search is by starting early and setting a consistent application schedule.
When you start early, you have the luxury of choice. No deadlines will be in effect just yet and you have ample time to explore, do more research and pick those that you are best qualified for.
Once you’ve shortlisted the scholarships you want to apply for, don’t try and send them all out at once. Commit to submitting at least a few applications every week, even if it is just two or three applications a week. Putting together each application along with a personalized essay does take time so don’t over-commit or you will start to feel disheartened and give up before you make any progress.
These Application Hacks Will Save You Some Time
Most applications require you to submit much of the same information—your transcripts, SAT/ACT scores, name, and contact details of your high school. You could end up wasting a whole lot of time looking through documents for the relevant details while filling in every application. Staying organized can make the process easier and quicker.
Keep copies of all the documents handy when you are working on your application. Take it one step further by putting together some details onto a Word document so you can just copy-paste the information into the necessary columns. Do this for your high school transcript and your high school contact details, income verification details, SAT/ACT scores, etc.
Think Outside The Box
What are you passionate about? Whatever your passion, there will almost certainly be a scholarship in that field. You may not think of leveraging your video gaming skills to get a college scholarship, but there are in fact several scholarship opportunities related to video gaming. In fact, you can find scholarships for just about anything you are passionate about, whether it is sewing, coding, farming, knitting, or zombies. Think outside the box when looking for designated scholarships and you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find.
Start On Your Essay Early & Then Adapt It For Each Application
For most students, writing the essay is the most stressful part of applying for a scholarship. It’s easier, in fact, to put it off for ‘later’. Don’t do that. Keeping your essay for the last minute is a huge mistake. You are then under tremendous pressure to get it done and are more likely to submit a less-than-stellar essay.
Starting early gives you plenty of time to think about the angle of your essay and then change it as many times as you want if you are not satisfied with your earlier attempts. Once you are happy with the way it has turned out, you have your basic essay ready to go.
Remember every scholarship will have a different requirement so your essay may not be applicable to all. In fact, it is strongly recommended not to send the same essay in all of your applications. But instead of having to create an entire essay from scratch, you can tweak your basic essay and adapt it to make it more relevant for the scholarship you are applying to.
It is strongly recommended not to send the same essay to all sponsors. Always personalize your letter before submitting it.
Go After Those Great Scholarships With Tough Applications
Some scholarships have particularly tough application requirements that deter most students. After all, who wants to go through all of that trouble when there are so many easier scholarships to pursue!
If you are prepared to put in the effort, you can capitalize on other applicants’ hesitation. It may take a little more time to complete the application. However, if you qualify for it, it is worth it. Think of it as working for your money and that’s not such a bad thing after all.
Don’t Ignore Those Small Scholarships
In an attempt to win the maximum amount, most students typically pursue a big scholarship and ignore the smaller rewards. This increases the competition for the larger rewards and decreases the competition for the lower amounts. Instead of the either-or approach, why not apply to both. There are no limits to the number of scholarships you can apply for or earn. The more scholarships you apply for the higher your chances of winning. Winning multiple small rewards serves the same purpose as one large scholarship. It will help offset your college tuition or least the cost of your books.
Local Scholarships Can Be A Goldmine
Several small and large businesses as well as individuals in the community offer scholarships to help local students pursue their higher education dreams. Local scholarships are easier to get as you are a target recipient. They want a student from the community who wants to study further.
These opportunities are easier to find too. Go through your local newspaper. Make inquiries at the local chamber of commerce. Ask your teacher, academic counselor, family, and friends if they know about any scholarships being offered by local businesses, organizations, or individuals and apply to them.
Every scholarship you earn reduces your student loan by that much. Use these tips, tricks, and hacks for finding great scholarships that will help you graduate with as little debt as possible.
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