Everything You Need to Know to Successfully Search and Apply for Scholarships

Hey, my name is Ayden, and I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May 2020.

Post-graduation, I hopped on the opportunity to help found a scholarship search engine and resource platform for students called Access Scholarships, after identifying the necessity for a more personal website dedicated to helping connect students with opportunities to help them pay for college.

So, as you probably already know, college is not a cheap investment. You have room and board, textbooks, and tons of other expenses to be thinking about in addition to just paying your normal tuition fees.

Luckily, there are lots of ways that you can be proactive in terms of earning and saving money to help you pay for college. A few of the most common avenues include applying for the FAFSA every year, getting a part-time job or enrolling in a federal work-study program, and applying for scholarships.

In this post, I am going to provide you with my top tricks and tips specifically on how to  successfully search and apply for scholarships. Let’s get started!

Tip #1: Know where to look.

First off, it’s super important that you make yourself aware of all the resources that are at your fingertips when it comes to searching for scholarships.

First off, let’s talk about offline resources. When it comes to scholarships, do not hesitate to reach out to your school counselor or to your financial aid office to inquire about scholarship opportunities. Often times these are the ones that get the most overlooked!

Next, for the online resources, there are tons of scholarship sites out there in addition to my own. I suggest finding one or two that you like to use and sticking to them. Also, think about doing some research on companies and organizations that you are interested in; you never know when a company might offer a scholarship you could be eligible to apply for!

In addition to scholarship sites like mine, and utilizing other private organization’s resources, you should also not be afraid to make Google your best friend.

Tip #2: Know what to search to find the right results.

Once you have identified your go-to resources for where to search for scholarships, you can then focus on what to actually search for.

Scholarship search engines of course make this process super easy, because all you have to do is input some information about yourself and voila! In addition to going down this route, you should also be thinking about keywords that apply to you and incorporating them into your search process.

For example, say you are a woman, and currently a senior in high school. You might head over to google and search “Scholarships for Women” or “High School Senior Scholarships”.

Tip #3: Think outside the box, big, and small.

It’s also super important when searching and applying for scholarships to vary the kinds you apply for, both in amount and in type.

You may want a full-ride to college and that’s great, but unfortunately, lots of other students do, too. So, while it is certainly not a bad idea to apply for these big amount scholarships, definitely don’t discount the smaller amount ones too.

Also, make sure to create a balance with the types of scholarships you are applying for. Making time to apply for scholarships that are competitive and have essays, and balancing these out with no essay scholarships, will help to keep you from mental overload.

Tip #4: Stay organized throughout the process.

If you’re in college, you can probably think back to what your college application process was like and how organized you had to be in order to keep it all together. The same goes with applying for scholarships!

Two helpful tips for staying organized with the process are to use a scholarship tracker excel sheet and keep all of your scholarship essays organized in a folder on your computer.

Tip #5: Authenticity is key when writing those essays.

Last, but certainly not least, tip number 5 is to be personal and authentic in writing your essays. Lots of scholarships require some sort of essay or personal statement. The topics for these requirements can vary.

However, regardless of what the prompt is, you want to give the person reading your essay a glimpse into who you are and why you deserve the scholarship being offered. What makes you unique from other applicants?

Ultimately, it is all about how you present the information that you want to get across. If you can find a way to convey information about yourself, your motivations, your achievements, your future goals, or whatever else they are asking you to write about while also showing your true personality, I can guarantee that is something that the organization will want to read!

There you have it, my 5 top tips and tricks for successfully searching and applying for scholarships!

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