School May Be Out, But College Scholarships Are Still Available. Here are 5 Top Tips for Applying.
School is out for the summer — hurrah! Although this is the time of year for students to take a much-needed break from classes, studying, projects, exams, and everything in between, it’s also, unbeknownst to many students, a truly great time to be searching and applying for scholarships.
I know you may be thinking: “Woah there, back up a second! Scholarships? Over the summer?!”
Listen, I know from personal experience that spending those beloved summer days seeking out college scholarships is not an ideal activity for most.
However, the fact that so many students don’t use the summer months to seek out opportunities means that you, as a summer scholarship seeker, are in a prime position to apply for (and hopefully secure) some impactful funding for your higher education.
So, in the spirit of the official start to summer being just around the corner, here are my top five tips on all things scholarships for college students:
Tip 1: Get organized.
With a process like searching and applying for scholarships, it truly pays off to get (and stay) organized.
If you’re not sure where to start with this, I suggest creating a spreadsheet on Excel or Google Sheets where you can keep track of the opportunities you find. Here are some column headers to get you started:
- Scholarship Name
- Link to website
- Application Requirements
- Letter of Recommendation Required?
- Application submitted?
These headers will help you keep track of everything worth noting about each scholarship. That way, you can always have a good read on where you’re at with each opportunity, which will also ensure that you don’t miss out on deadlines and potential money in your pocket!
Tip 2: Search high, search low, and search everywhere in between.
I will be the first to admit that the process of searching for scholarships to apply for is not so fun. If you’re like I was in college, you might be tempted to just scroll through one database and call it a day.
However, it certainly behooves you to seek out opportunities available through every resource at your disposal. Here are a few ideas of places to look to help get you started:
- Your college’s scholarship database
- The website of your major/area of study (sometimes these scholarships aren’t listed in the general scholarship database)
- Private scholarship databases (such as Access Scholarships, Sallie Mae, and more)
- Websites of companies, non-profits, and other organizations (both local and national)
- If you’re involved in extracurricular clubs at your school, reach out to whoever runs them to ask about opportunities
Tip 3: Don’t be afraid to reduce, reuse, recycle those essays!
Whether you’re only starting out on your scholarship journey or you’ve applied to dozens upon dozens of opportunities, if you’re in college, you’ve likely written a fair few number of essays in your lifetime.
So, while you could spend hours handcrafting a completely unique essay for each scholarship you apply for (if you have the time and you want to do this, certainly do!), this tip is a reminder that you don’t always have to.
Many scholarships have similar (if not the same) essay prompts. This puts you, as the applicant, in a prime position to save some time by recycling (ideally, upcycling) a great essay that you already have and tailoring it to the specific opportunity you’re applying for.
Tip 4: Mix up the types of opportunities you apply for.
This tip is for all the students who tend to silo themselves into only applying for the most attractive scholarships, aka the ones that offer the most money. While these scholarships certainly have the potential for big savings on your college education, they are also often the most competitive.
So if, for example, you’ve been applying for lots of big name, big money scholarships, don’t be afraid to add some local or smaller amount opportunities into the mix. Trying to find and apply for opportunities that you think may be less competitive (because they are smaller or probably receive fewer applicants) can be an easier way to help you rack up dollars.
Tip 5: Don’t give up!
Last, but most certainly not least — I know the process of searching and applying for scholarships can be tough. But, by staying organized, focusing your time on what matters most, utilizing the resources at your disposal, and getting creative, you can win scholarships!
Don’t give up!