Ahh, scholarships. As I write this blog entry, I’m constantly thinking about the scholarship applications I should be filling out, and the deadlines that are quickly approaching. It’s a two-sided coin: on one side, you fill out the scholarships, you make the money, and you can pay for college debt-free (YAY!). On the other side, you spend countless hours filling out flowery questions about your life goals and why you deserve their money, only to receive some, and get rejected by others (BOO!). Don’t get me wrong, the time you spend on it certainly pays off (literally), but when you only have 24 hours in a day, and can devote about one of them to non-curricular activities, scholarships are hardly above sleep in my mind. So, I thought I would impart some wisdom I’ve picked up along the way to make the most of that five minutes you have to spend on scholarship applications.
- Make a list of every extra-curricular you’ve ever done, and look for scholarships they offer. In high school, I was in literally every club I could be. When it came time to fill out scholarships, I scouted these organizations and clubs for any and every scholarship they offered. If you have experience with their club, you’ve already got a foot in the door. Check out their website, or talk to your club advisor.
- Weigh your chances. Let’s see, if I fill out one application for a nation-wide scholarship, where all I have to do is watch a 10-minute video and fill out a questionnaire, how many other students do you think also filled out for that scholarship? Not saying you shouldn’t do these one-in-a-million shots at a $10,000 scholarship, but they more than likely won’t be paying your tuition. If they do, please call me up and tell me your secrets. But, if you have an application from the local Rotary Club that you’ve worked with on several occasions, and know most of the members, what are your chances of getting that scholarship? I would say much higher. While it may be $500 versus $5000, you’re much more likely to see that money.
- Don’t stress yourself. Trust me, I’m the Queen of Stress. If only I had a crown. My senior year, I probably filled out 20 scholarship applications, working on them every available moment. I would fill them out the day they were due because I would always forget about it. My suggestion to you is to make a list of available scholarships, put the deadlines in your phone calendar with a “week before” reminder, and when you get that reminder, make sure the application is done. I wish I had done this while so many scholarships were available to me.
All-in-all, there’s no reason anyone can’t make it through college debt-free, it just takes a tremendous amount of effort for some. Just know, there are always opportunities available. Talk to your high school guidance counselor, you college academic advisor, your friends, your acquaintances, heck, maybe even your enemies, and I bet they know of a scholarship you can fill out. On that note, I’ve got to go work on a scholarship app. Until next time,