Finding a good scholarship is a beautiful thing. For a student already admitted to a college, it’s like locating buried treasure. That’s because it takes a lot of digging to find the college money you are looking for. Once the student starts to attend a particular University, they typically go on “financial cruise control” accepting whatever financial aid is offered each year, but rarely searching for any more. If you are student looking to put a real dent in your tuition costs, you need to commit time to finding a scholarship. Successful scholarship recipients never quit, and continue to search for additional funding after they have been admitted to their school.
We always hear that there is lots of scholarship money out there. When taking a look at the very popular scholarship search engine www.Fastweb.com one of the things that pops out (Like a huge carrot in the lower left corner) is the picture of a trophy with a ribbon stating “Over $3 billion in scholarships!” draped along the front.
$3 billion? That is enough money to put about 15,000 kids through four years of Harvard or equivalent to over 540,000 students receiving a maximum Pell grant of $5,550 next year. And this is just one (albeit massive) scholarship search engine.
So with all this scholarship money out there floating around why is it so many students still have trouble getting their tuition payed for?
Because the large majority of this scholarship money is divided up into smaller $2,000-or-less scholarships that are being distributed to as many students as possible.
I’m sure no one would say no to an extra $2,000, but compared to the skyrocketing costs of college it can feel like a drop in the bucket. Getting one $500 scholarship feels like a pair of socks on Christmas. This leads ambitious students towards a scholarship search with no stone left unturned.
The internet is powerful:
In the past, applying for a scholarship required written applications to be delivered by a certain deadline, usually by mail. The internet now makes applications instantly and readily accessible and deliverable. However, this effort of simplification has made it easier for more people to apply for money, reducing the odds of winning a scholarship, and further fracturing large awards into smaller and smaller ones to be divided evenly. Internet search engines for scholarships have changed the game.
Play the numbers game:
Technology makes it easier to apply for a scholarship. But it is unwise to rest all hopes on a single application for college funding. Students need to apply for as many scholarships as are available. Consider a fisherman with many lines in the water will have a much better chance of snagging a fish then the guy with one line in the water. Do this by developing a few awesome scholarship essays, and then using the same essays to apply for literally hundreds of scholarships, increasing your chances. One $500 scholarship is not much, but 10? Now we are talking.
Unique scholarships for unique qualities:
So why should you get a scholarship anyway? Everyone wants one and everyone thinks they deserve it so you will have to make yourself stand out from the rest. The running joke in scholarship world is the money allocated to a “left handed trumpet player” simply because he was different. Focus on individualization, what makes you step out from the pack and make you an outstanding scholarship recipient?
Don’t sleep on local groups
There are still many local groups like Elks, Lions, Rotary, Woman’s Club and local business associations that provide scholarships to members of the community. They might not be super popular on web search engines, but are literally in your back yard. Do some investigation in your community to see if you can qualify.