1. How do I find a scholarship to college?
Finding scholarships has had a hyper-boost from the virtues of the Internet. There are dedicated websites that you can sign-up with that direct you to scholarships for high schoolers, with a special category just for high school seniors.
While you might be a little suspicious of "Sign up and we'll show you what you can have!" websites, there are several that have the backing of well respected sites or organizations. For example, studentaid.ed.gov (a federal government website) recommends careerinfonet.org/scholarshipsearch/. Another exaqmple is that the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) gives its approval to scholarships.com, as does the National Scholastic Press Association (nspa).
Even the US College Board (host of aggravating college entrance exams) offers their own scholarship search at bigfuture.collegeboard.org/scholarship search. In addition, scholarshipamerica.org and fastweb.com/college-scholarships are two well respected search-sites that help high school students locate scholarships, including "open" scholarships that are not restricted by interest, parent work-place, ethnic group or religious affiliation or specific athletic or academic interest.
Special Interest Groups
So, how do you find scholarships for college? You definitely include Internet tools in your search. You check with your workplace and your parents' workplaces, probably the Human Resources department (they'll direct you if you need another department), to find what scholarships the companies offer. You check with the religious leader at the place of worship you and your family are associated with to find out what scholarships the local or national assemblies might offer. You check with coach, if athletic, to see what sports related scholarships are available. You check with your high school guidance counselor to find out what scholarships are available for your ethnic group.
You check with your favorite teachers to see what scholarships are available in history, maths, science, literary topics (e.g., poetry) or other topics. You check with the financial aid department of the college or colleges you are targeting to see what scholarships they offer, especially in your field of study (if you've chosen one). You definitely enter the National Merit Scholarship competition (entry activated automatically for those in the top percentiles of the entrance board exams).
Family Clubs and Organizations
You check with organizations you or your family members might be affiliated with. Examples that come to mind are Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts; Rainbow Girls, Job's Daughters, Demolay; Eastern Star, Masons; Lion's Club, Rotary Club, Toastmasters or Elks Club; and sororities and fraternities your parents joined during their own college days. Chambers of Commerce and local businesses also offer scholarships. Your reference librarian or guidance counselor can help you find what is available in your home town.
Special Needs and Military Branches
Also check with your school guidance counselor for scholarships offered specifically to individuals with disabilities if applicable. Check with your parents or their friends about scholarships that are offered by any labor unions they may belong to. The branches of the military offer some excellent scholarships to children of individuals who are serving or of veterans who have served. Best of all, military scholarships are available to high school seniors who are committing to join one of the branches of service after finishing college.
State and Local, Political
Finally, there are state and local scholarships that are available on a broad basis. Check with your high school guidance counselor or your college financial aid department to identify what those are. In addition, there are politically oriented national and international essay competition scholarship awards, such as the National Peace Essay Contest and the American Foreign Service Association Essay Contest. scholarshipmentor.com/essay-contests has a good list of all manner of essay contest scholarships.
2. How do I apply for a scholarship to college?
"How do I apply?" is really the easiest part of the process. All you have to do is follow the very clear and detailed instructions, note the deadline date (the date after which all your efforts are dead in the water) and get your finished application in the mail before that deadline.
Be sure to check if the deadline refers to the postmark date (if mailed), the submission timestamp (if submitted via the Internet), or the received timestamp signifying when it actually arrived, either electronically or physically, at the contest destination. These might be three very different dates and times with very different time zone designations (your time zone or their time zone?) and need to be carefully noted and fully understood.
The application process usually requires personal information including verifiable, legally recognized identity validation. Be sure to have birth certificate, drivers license or state identification cards, passport, or Social Security cards on hand to be able to meet whichever ID verification is requested. Be sure to spell everything correctly on your application, including your name! No time for the jitters when filling out applications.
You will then be asked to follow the instructions relevant to the application whether it be an essay to write, a biography to compose or any other specification required. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully and, if there is any word or concept, such as "unilateral," that you don't fully understand the meaning of, be sure to look it up rather than risk writing the wrong essay.
3. What are some great scholarships out there now for high school students?
There are several great scholarships to apply for. Here are short descriptions of some of the greatest.
No-Brainer Applications for Average Students
With a majority emphasis on scholarships for academic aptitude, it is good to know that there are scholarships available for those who don't outshine other more luminous students. Affectionately called no-brainer scholarships, the application requirements are less stringent than for some, such as the national and international peace essay contests.
Some of these no-brainer application scholarships for average students are:
- $2,000: niche.com sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University.
- $1,000: cappex.com owned and operated by Chris Long, President and CEO, with an MBA from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management and a BS in Journalism from Northwestern University.
- $1,00 to $10,000: scholarshippoints.com has interactive ways students earn points and register them for scholarship drawings; sponsored by Edvisors Network, Inc., edvisors.com, specializing in student loans and student loan consolidations.
- $1,000 and $2,000: American Fire Sprinkler Association Scholarship Program based on correct answers to an essay about fire prevention through installation of fire sprinklers.
- $1,000 (1,200 scholarships): Best Buy Inc based on community involvement through academics, work experience or community service to foster community support of technology skills.
Can you muster three sentences on your personal experience with "karma"? Can you dare to write 17,000 words of science fiction or fantasy? Can you stand on stage and imitate a duck call? How about for between $2,000 and $500? For future linguists who want to study language, can you summarize why you want to study language for the Klingon Language Institute (i.e., Klingon of Star Trek fame)? Are you tall (women, 5'10"; men 6'2") but don't play ball? Do you have the courage of your height to write and ask how to compete for a $1,000 scholarship?
These and other unusual and fun scholarship applications don't emphasize academic achievement, as you see, yet cut down on the cost of your education if won.
Topic or Field Specific
If you know your topic of academic study or your future field of employment, there are specific scholarships that might match your choices. Some of these topic or field specific scholarships address:
- Art study
- Writing study
- Culinary study ($10,000)
- Future business leaders
- Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholars ($40,000) for persistence, leadership and a desire to help others
- PeopleSmart privacy topic essay
- Doodle for Google (Google.com), Google doodles for "ideas big and small, practical and playful"
- EngineerGirl essay contest
High-dollar award in specific topics or fields
- Buick Achievers Scholarship to design and build tomorrows autos
- Siemens Math, Science and Technology Award to nurture studies in maths, science, and technology
- Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation 250 academic achievement-based scholarships
- Davidson Institute for Talent Development for student prodigies 18 and under who have completed a major work in "mathematics, science, literature, music, technology, or philosophy"
As you can see, this is the age of great scholarships that cover education seekers from the average student, the future-focused student, the prodigies (few and far between), essay writers and those with family or friends in moneyed places. Let's not forget to mention those who are answer-writing friends of eNotes.com, Inc!
Here is a herd of links you can have fun with. Some lead to scholarships I've mentioned above, some to what I haven't mentioned because my fingers got worn out.
Average Students and No-Brainer Scholarship Applications
Specific Topic or Field
Open Scholarships (the opposite of specific topic or field)
High-Dollar Foundation Scholarships
Scholarship Search Websites
The best way to look for and apply for scholarships is to find out what makes you special. Usually there are scholarships for different ethnic groups and different hobbies. There are also scholarships out there for specific majors, professions, and sports. One thing to keep in mind is that not all scholarships are for a great deal of money, but every little bit counts. For example, when I was in high school I applied for a scholarship through the local teacher's union. It was only for a few hundred dollars. I had to write an essay talking about why I wanted to be a teacher. While a few hundred dollars may not sound like much, that money came in handy for books and other supplies for my first semester of college!
When applying for scholarships, you will need to be very organized. Make sure that you take it seriously, like a job. Keep track of deadlines. It can be kind of like a treasure hunt! Apply for all of the scholarships that you think you seriously might get, or might have a chance at, if there is no fee for applying. If there is an essay involved, have someone read it for you or proofread it. Take your time, and be honest. Ask your parents and grandparents about your history and background. Maybe you are part Native American or Irish, and didn't remember.
Don't forget about need-based aid too. Make sure that your parents or guardians fill out that FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) forms on time, and correctly. The last thing you want going to college is a lot of debt, but if you do get debt, make sure you understand what you get getting into. You do not have to pay back scholarships, but you do have to pay back loans.
The main focus of grant/scholarship committees is "Will this person eventually enhance our reputation as an academic community?" In other words, will our money pay off eventually? Will the candidate stick to the path of education? Will he/she bring both intelligence and dedication to the studies? Is there a creative mind in there with the intellect/memory? Can this candidate learn to "think"? Not just memorize, but build some "tool" for research, logic, organization, etc." Your academic record to date -- scores, grades, range of experiences, etc. -- must stand with the other candidates', but what makes you stand out to the committee is "potential."
Scholarships are awarded based on a combination of items, including your academic achievements, standardized test scores, and any outstanding quality/ies that you may be able to highlight. Typically, they are tough to get, so you have to highlight special talents, hobbies, activities to make your application stand apart. there are also special scholarships for people from certain regions, belonging to certain academic societies, sports, etc. You may also want to check the need-based programs and FAFSA.
Make sure you are very organized about the search for scholarships. I have found that people discuss available scholarships on blogs and facebook groups, so they are another great asset. Make sure all your documents, esp. the once highlighting your achievements (not just academic, but extra-curricular as well, say you lead a group of enthusiasts to hiking trips every weekend or so ; you lead a campaign in your neighborhood to collect food and clothes for homeless people, etc.).
There are a number of websites that may provide useful links to the various schemes out there. Be diligent about the search and make sure to meet all deadlines.
Two of my favorite scholarship sites are Fastweb.com, they will email you thousandsof sscholarship opportunities, and DoSomthing.org, which give you fun scholarship opportunities that help make the world better(sounds cheesy I know, but its great)