When do I Start on Scholarships?

by Linda Harter
(Waco, TX)

How, But Mostly When do I Start on Scholarships? - Looking for scholarships actually begins when you graduate from 8th grade. You can start anytime after that and sometimes before that date, but it takes a long time to get things ready for the final plunge into the world of searching for scholarships. During your senior year things are fast and furious and if you have your information in place, then your life will be less stressful. Let’s look at a few things you can do to prepare:


You need to get a log – a blank book, spiral notebook, or just paper in a three ring notebook will do. Divide the book in half and record school events and community events, make some tabs for the following things in both: sports/band/drama/choir, clubs, awards, service hours, essays/papers, and other activities. Record everything you do in this book with the hours you spent on each activity. Later you will be asked to tell how many hours per week and weeks per year that you spent on each of these. This book will make it easier. In fact if you are a spreadsheet guru you could develop a spreadsheet to log your hours.

In sports you need to record your high school varsity, high school junior varsity, local sports leagues, and even church leagues you participated in. This includes your practice hours too. Record your band practice hours at home and any marching practice, etc. Do the same for drama productions and choir. Also, keep record of how many times you were captain of the team, leading actor/actress, soloist, and any other leadership role that you had in these areas.

In clubs you need to have the name of the club, sponsor names, and description of the club. Be sure to record when you met for meetings, did service projects, if you were an officer, and anything out of the ordinary that your club did. This includes both school clubs and community clubs that you were a member of. You can also include church youth groups and memberships in national clubs.

Keeping track of awards is next. Be sure to save copies of your awards. These include academic awards, sports awards, community awards, volunteer awards, and can include any certificates you acquired such as umpire, CPR, life guard, C++, etc. A lot of scholarships will ask you to send copies of special awards in a portfolio. Some scholarships have a point system and will give points for how many awards and leadership roles you had.

Service hours are crucial. Get involved in your school and in the community in a variety of service projects. Most scholarships like to see longevity in a service project for instance that you helped for four years in the march of dimes walkathon or worked as a candy striper more than just one summer. They like variety but you get more points for staying with something more than a few hours. Record all your service projects, names of supervisors or sponsors, dates, how many hours, and a description of what you did. Volunteer hours at the school include things such as working the snack bar, playing in a band concert, reading to elementary students, being in a parade, doing auctions, raising funds for events, cleaning the school yard, helping teachers, just to name a few. Community hours include things from church such as mission trips, singing in the choir, being an altar boy, teaching Sunday school, vacation Bible school, raking leaves, etc. If you do a service for someone or some organization without getting paid it’s considered volunteer service and you can count the hours. Other things include walk-a-thons, working in a shelter, feeding the homeless, collecting can goods, just look around your community, church, and school for opportunities.

Essays and school papers are crucial for scholarships. Make sure you write down your thoughts on what you want to do with your future, what kind of education you want to get, how you feel about America, what makes you special, why do you think you deserve a scholarship, and anything else that might be meaningful when you start writing your essays. A lot of times, scholarships will let you send in essays that you submitted to teachers so keep your best ones. Look at scholarships throughout your high school years and catch the ones that any grade can apply for and go for them. Look to at what type of essays they want you to write and start writing them way before your senior year.

I have just touched the surface on how to start in your scholarship search. These are just the beginning steps that you need because you never know what the scholarships are going to be asking you or wanting you to give them. Don’t forget you also need recommendation letters, but that is another subject. Be prepared and be ready for anything and GOOD LUCK !!!

Read more ideas about available Scholarships and Grants for College from other students and parents who have been through process.


Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Linda for answering the important question about scholarship searches: How and When do I Start on Scholarships? You definitely want to prepare and start your search early. Be sure to check out some of the scholarships on our website too, especially our pages on Scholarships for High School Freshmen, Scholarships for High School Sophomores, Scholarships for High School Juniors, and Scholarships for High School Seniors. Best of luck.



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Where Do I Begin?

by Feliscia P.
(Georgia )

Scholarship Hunting Tips - Ok, let’s be honest. Scholarship hunting can seem impossible. To use an old adage, it can seem like trying to find a needle in a haystack and your first inclination could be to give up before you even start. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. All it takes is typing the word “scholarships” into Google and in a fraction of a second you’re presented with more than seventy-seven million avenues to take. So, where did you go from there?

Scholarship Hunting Tips

Tip 1: Apply to Colleges

You’re probably thinking duh! If you didn’t plan on attending college you probably wouldn’t be searching for scholarships in the first place. But, hang on a sec and I’ll explain what I mean. Your potential colleges can actually be your greatest avenue for financial aid because their goal is to encourage you to attend. What could be a better motivator for attending a school than receiving a scholarship?! To take advantage of what colleges have to offer it is important to take two steps:

A) Apply early. Take advantage of the early application deadlines (usually in the fall of your senior year). You will hear back from your schools much sooner. In your acceptance letters, colleges will often include a scholarship offer. This means that they offer you money without you even having to fill out a scholarship application! So go ahead, apply to your dream schools. You never know how much aid they will offer you
.
B) Investigate. Check out your schools’ websites to find scholarships offered exclusively to students who have been accepted. By applying for school-specific awards, you lessen the amount of applicants you compete with and increase your chances of winning.


Tip 2: Target your Google Search

Of course the internet is a great resource for finding scholarships, but if your search is broad it can take a long time to sift through the results and find the ones that apply to you. Here are a couple of hints to make your internet searches more productive:

A) Be specific. Instead of searching “scholarships” add a few words that apply to you. Are you an Asian American? Future Teacher? Talented Artist? Including characteristics such as your major, year in school, ethnicity, talents, home state, and even unique interests (like knitting) will narrow your results. You’ll not only be matched to scholarships that you qualify for, but by being specific you’ll also find scholarships that are less competitive.

B) Get help. Sites like College Financial Aid Advice.com help you by organizing scholarships for you! For example, you will see that this site organizes scholarships by major, gender, uniqueness, etc. There are also sites such as scholarshipexperts.com which will find scholarships for you based on information that you provide in a profile.

Tip 3: Use what you’ve got

Now you’ve got an awesome list together, but many of your applications require you to write essays. Don’t despair! Though writing those essays may seem daunting, it’s well worth it. Scholarships that require an essay are applied for less often than those that don’t require an essay, which means you increase your chances of winning! Here are a couple tips to make writing your essay a little less intimidating:

A) Recycle. Remember the essay you worked really hard on for English? Or how about the essay you wrote for your college application? If they were good enough to earn an A or admittance to college, chances are they are good enough to win a scholarship! They were likely reviewed by a teacher/professor and revised to perfection, making them excellent candidates. Using your previous work is smart because it not only ensures that you are submitting your best work, but it also takes less time to complete each
application. That means more time to apply for other scholarships!

B) Be yourself. Scholarship essays aren’t usually intended to be research papers. While grammar and style are important, it is equally important that your personality shine through. Judges want to know about you, so tell them! This is easier than you think. You’re an expert on the topic. Who can express you better than you?

To wrap it up…
Be smart, creative, and persistent in your scholarship search. Have faith that you will win and there’s no telling how successful you will be. Good luck and God Bless!

Read more hints about Scholarships and Grants for College Students from other students and parents who have been through process.



Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Feliscia for sharing your scholarship hunting tips. Good luck in hunting for scholarships.


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Real Scholarships

by Sandra Pace
(Cresco,P.A., USA)

Pop-up??!! Oh no not another one!!?? - How do I find real scholarships not those pop-up? I had to solve this problem. I would type in the word scholarships in my search engine and I would get a million hits. Then I would click them one by one trying to apply for them. The problem was I would run into thing that would tell me in order to get there I would have to fill out for schools that I did not want to go to for majors I did not want. I would do it in hopes of applying and never get to the point to apply and in the rare case I did there was no way to see who won the money.

If that was not the worse part I would get phone calls through out the day asking me to got to their school. Some of them were really pushy and then would try to get me to give them my friend’s e-mail and phone numbers. I wanted to apply with out the hassle.

One day I tried something new I took the name of the scholarship and put that in my search engine. JACKPOT! By doing this I was able to find out the real ones from the fake or expired ones. I than looked up list of scholarships for my major, race, religion, state, shape, and interest pretty much any thing I could think of. After that it was much simpler to find school money. I have became so good at finding them I would with my school by finding them and giving a list of them to the person in charge of scholarships for my school. I now love finding FREE school money for my family, friends, strangers, and myself. To know I had a hand in helping someone else go to school is the greatest feeling in the world.

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Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Sandra for sharing how to find real scholarships and avoid those sales pitches. That’s why we never ask for personal information or try to sell you anything – we just provide the best list of scholarships that we can find. Best of luck to you.


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Look at the Positive Side

by Tori Taft
(Peoria, Arizona, USA)


Full Ride Scholarship - As all college students are aware, AIMS testing (a standardized test given to elementary and high school students within Arizona to record their stance) was grueling... Even the thought of a full-ride scholarship could not draw me in; but regardless of my stubbornness I tried for the sake of trying. The deal was: if the student were to exceed in all of the categories (math, writing, and reading), the full-ride scholarship would be granted to that individual... All I kept telling myself was "Come on, it is a full-ride scholarship; just do it and get it over with...You will be thankful in the end!"

Well the testing days came and went while I seemed to struggle with the reading portion on the AIMS testing. I attempted my freshman and sophomore year which ended in disastrous results. I never understood why my reading skills were not executed through my test scores.

Needless to say, I tried my junior year in high school...and I passed by two points! I was so proud of myself because without this AIMS Scholarship, I would not be able to attend such a wonderful school such as Arizona State University. I am one step closer to reaching my dreams of becoming a Fine Artist and it is all thanks to that little stitch of extra effort. In a sense, the motto of this story is to never settle for average, you deserve the best of the best.

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Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Tori for sharing your success story and congratulations on earning a full ride scholarship from your AIMS testing. Best of luck to you.


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