Getting Scholarships

Posted on 08 February 2008 by students

The other day a reader named Anne C. from Georgia asked me the simple question of:

“How do I get scholarships?”

Well Anne… this answer isn’t exactly simple… but it isn’t very complicated either.  I’ll give you a brief outline of what colleges look for, and point you toward other resources to help you get college scholarships.getting scholarships

First off,

Read my article that I wrote called, “Free Scholarships - How I didn’t Pay a Dime for College”. 

That article is a work in progress and I continually add new information and resources onto that page. 

Second,

Realize that getting scholarships is a NUMBERS GAME as much as it skill

Yep, it’s a numbers game.  Just like if you are a salesman, the more potential customers you visit… the more sales you’ll generate (unless you’re the worst salesman in the world).

So, don’t be too picky when deciding on which scholarships to apply for.  Apply for as many as you humanly can while still keeping each application a high quality. 

I’m not saying to just mass produce your scholarship applications… the scholarship committee will probably see right through it…

… what I am saying is to apply for as many good scholarships as you can to increase your odds of winning some of them.

If you only apply for 2 or 3… odds are that you will only win one (OR NONE).

Third,

Start as early as you can strengthening your resume

By your resume I mean everything that the college scholarship committee’s look at, including:

  • Your grades – Work hard to get your GPA at least over 3.5 for the best chances of getting scholarships
  • The SAT and ACT tests – Take the SAT seriously.  Many scholarship applications require a minimum SAT score to qualify.  Usually it’s something like a 1000 -1200… sometimes higher… sometimes lower.
  • Extracurricular activities- Go out an volunteer for a few things.  Join a club or two related to your career goals.  Do something to show the scholarship committee’s that you are a well rounded student… and person.
  • Reference letters – Start in your junior year or early in your senior year getting a feel for who you can get great reference letters from.  I happen to know very well the registrar at a college I applied to… so I had her write me a great reference letter.  Ask a teacher who knows you well that can give a great reference for your ability as a student and a person.

Get those elements above rolling as soon as you can and you’ll be way ahead of the students who put it off until later in their senior year in high school.

Fourth,

Look at local, national, and college specific scholarships

Don’t count yourself out on any scholarships.  I applied for probably 5 – 8 national scholarships (I got one that paid me $4,000), about 10-15 local scholarships, and probably another 10-15 college specific scholarship. 

So, apply for all of those little $500 local scholarships (they really add up), those big $5, 10, 20,000 national scholarships, and all of the college specific ones you can find.

I actually used a website called Fastweb to look for the national scholarships… it is free… really easy, and has a ton of scholarships right here online.  Check it out and set up a free account to get going on that.

All in all, successfully getting college scholarships is both a process and making sure you work hard your junior and senior years in high school to meet the scholarship GPA and SAT requirements.

That is a quick and dirty overview of what it takes to get scholarships.  I’ll go in more depth and give you step-by-step instructions on how to get that scholarship you want.  Until then, browse the rest of the site, set up an account at Fastweb to start searching for scholarships, and get your butt in gear making sure your grades, SAT, and reference letters are in-line. 

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