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How to Find College Scholarships You Could Actually Win

August 28th, 2008 admin

So, you want to win a scholarship, huh? But maybe you think you can’t win because you don’t have a 4.0, you don’t have enough community service hours, or your essay-writing skills are less than stellar.

Lucky for you, you don’t need any of those things to potentially win a scholarship-you just need to be able to find scholarships that fit you. Even luckier-I work for Deborah Fox, author of the Pay for College Blog, and that means I get to share some of her tips with you!

Location, Location… Local Location

Deborah says that it is much, much easier to potentially win a local scholarship than a national one. The reason why is simple-local competitions have a way smaller applicant pool than national ones, and that means you have less competition.

What to Look For: Ask around at your high school counseling office or college financial aid office (or check their websites), as well as the local library, for local, regional, or state scholarships. Also, run a Google or Yahoo! search for your city/county/region/state + the word “scholarship.” You should also find out which scholarships are offered ONLY to your college.

Know Thyself… and Thy Hobbies & etc.

Another idea Deborah offered for finding scholarships with smaller applicant pools is to focus on talents, hobbies, abilities, and associations you have that are more unique than the typical “volunteering and strong SAT scores.” (She has a great article about quirky scholarships on her blog.)

What to Look For: A lot of scholarships are NOT based on grades or test scores, so don’t box yourself in! Try searching out scholarships awarded for:

  • Your ethnicity, religion, or heritage
  • Your talents (music, chess, art, sports, etc.)
  • Your hobbies (surfing, knitting, mountain biking, baking, etc.)
  • Your or your family’s medical history (history of hemophilia, cancer, etc.)
  • Your or your family’s clubs or other associations (employers, on-campus or off-campus clubs/activities like Boy Scouts or 4H, a credit union your parents bank at, etc.)
  • Any other thing you feel is unique about you or your family!

Plan Ahead

Deborah’s final tip for today is to plan ahead-even way ahead.

During your scholarship search you’ll probably come across some scholarships that would be perfect for you if you were just one year further in school, or even some that you could be eligible for for several years. Keep a list of all of these so you can reapply to scholarships you’re still eligible for next year, and remember those that you will be eligible for in a while.

What to Look For: Scholarships that will apply to you when you hit certain markers (age, level in school, etc.) or those that will apply to you for multiple years. Remember to reapply to any scholarships you can if you don’t win them the first time around-or if they allow even winners to compete!

Thanks again to Deborah of the Pay for College Blog for all her help (you might want to send your parents over there for pointers on how to pay for college)!

photo: Traveller by asifthebes

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Entry Filed under: paying for college

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Ibrahim | ZenCollegeLife.com  |  September 9th, 2008 at 7:40 am

    Great tips. I spent the first year of college writing countless essays for scholarships that I had no chance at receiving. This idea will save students great amounts of time, while spending their scholarship application time more wisely.

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