Here’s Your Guide to Searching for Scholarships as a High School Student
If you’re a high school student right now, chances are you have a lot on your plate. I was in high school once too, so I know how it goes; keeping up with classes and extracurriculars, trying to maintain a social life, and the big one, navigating the process of college prep and applications. Listen, I’m not trying to add something else to your to-do list, but, there is one other thing worth mentioning, and the earlier you get on it, the better. I promise you’ll thank me later for this one!
That other thing worth mentioning?
Researching and applying for scholarships.
From my experience talking to high school students everywhere, this is one of the most overlooked “to-do’s” of being a high-school upperclassman. Students are pushed towards the path of refining their resumes, investing time in extracurriculars, and perfecting essays for college applications, all while leaving time to apply for scholarships in the dust.
And of course, students can apply for scholarships all through college as well, so this is not to say that once you actually get to college, you can’t hop on the wagon. However, getting started in high school will do wonders for helping give you that much-needed momentum and motivation to keep the process up once you step on campus (whether that’s virtually or in-person)!
So far, I’ve done what some might say is a decent amount of talking about the importance of starting early when it comes to researching and applying for scholarships. But, now that I’ve got you here, I’m sure the million-dollar question on your mind is something along the lines of, “where, and HOW, am I supposed to get started with this process?!”. Well, since you asked, I’m here to answer!
To answer the where, there are tons of resources to help you get your search started, and they come in the form of both online and in-person help. We’ll start with the resource that is likely “closest to home”, which is your high school guidance counselor. Your guidance counselor, along with your school’s website, likely has a variety of scholarship resources for you to take advantage of. If you’re not sure exactly where they are, it never hurts to ask! One of the major pros of talking with your guidance counselor about scholarships is that they are likely aware of the local opportunities that often get overlooked. So, don’t underestimate the importance of starting close to home!
Given the fact that the internet is comprised of approximately 1.7 billion websites, my next recommendation of turning to the web to search for scholarships may seem like a daunting task. Luckily, I’m here to steer you in the right direction.
The first place to look is on the websites of any clubs or organizations you are either a part of or interested in since a lot of big organizations and companies have their own scholarships. For example, if you are involved in your high school’s branch of Amnesty International, check out their website to see if they offer a scholarship!
Secondly, you have your scholarship search engines and websites. These platforms are a great way to easily search for, apply, and keep track of scholarships. One of the most helpful features of a great scholarship search engine is its ability to provide students with the most personal and specific results possible. After all, ain’t nobody got time to waste! Enter my shameless plug; I recently launched my own scholarship search website called Access Scholarships. I’m proud to say that Access was created (and is constantly updated) with student usability at top of mind. So, if you’re heading to the web to do some scholarship searching, check it out!
Now that we’ve covered the “where to look”, let’s move on to the “how”.
Many students like approaching the process of searching and applying for scholarships in a similar fashion to the college application process, and truthfully, I think it’s great! Without further ado, here are some of my tried and tested tips for scholarship searching & applying:
Set a SMART goal for yourself.
To elaborate, your goal should be:
- Specific — Determine what you’re trying to get out of applying for scholarships. Are you looking to cover your full tuition, the cost of textbooks, or somewhere in between?
- Measurable — Come up with a concrete number to aim for in terms of how much you are looking to earn.
- Attainable — Ask yourself: is the goal I have outlined for myself attainable? Also, it’s okay to dream big with this, but at the end of the day, be real with yourself, weighing how much time and effort you are willing to put into the process with the types of scholarships you are looking at applying for.
- Relevant — Identify why this goal is important to you.
- Timely — Come up with a schedule for when you will make time to apply for scholarships. Hint: you can apply for scholarships until you aren’t a student anymore, so the time constraint there is pretty much graduation!
Just like you might be doing (or might plan on doing) for college applications, create a spreadsheet for keeping track of your scholarship applications! This way, you can stay organized and easily determine what you need to work on next. If you need help getting started with this, check out my scholarship application tracker!
Be thorough, and think outside the box.
Diversify the types of scholarships you are applying to! This means not only applying to scholarships with amounts that are big and small but also “thinking outside the box” in terms of the areas of interest for scholarships. For example, you may know that you want to be an engineer, so you are looking mainly at applying to engineering scholarships. However, if you’re also passionate about photography or a sport, be sure to explore options for scholarships in those areas too!
Be on time.
This tip cannot be stressed enough! The same way you wouldn’t miss a deadline for submitting a big paper or a college application, think of scholarship applications on a similar level. If you are putting in the time and effort into working on an application, make sure you don’t miss the deadline for submission! Again, this is where an application tracker might come in handy.
There you have it, those are my tips. To congratulate you on making it this far, check out these quick links full of easy scholarships — Scholarships for High School Juniors and Scholarships for High School Seniors — to help get you started! Now, I’ll leave the rest to you. Good luck and happy applying!