Looking for scholarships can be stressful because you know that you’ll make your life a lot easier if you get one, but you don’t seem to be succeeding. The worst thing you could do is to start stressing out and give up too early, so we’ve prepared this short guide you can use to keep track of your progress so far.
First you need to ask yourself where your strengths lie, and which categories of scholarships you’ll need to pursue. If you don’t have outstanding academic achievements overall, focus on something you do best, even if it’s something unusual. Try to assess yourself realistically, it won’t do you any good to overestimate yourself, but if you underestimate yourself you’ll miss many opportunities for sure. Try to apply for different kinds to scholarships but don’t send out the same application for all of them.
Start with getting an appointment with the guidance counselor at your school. You might not think they can help you, but it’s their job to be well informed about scholarships and important matters that worry students. Tell them what school you hope to enroll in, what you want to study there, what you did so far to prepare yourself for the challenges that expect you, what your extracurricular activities were, did you volunteer somewhere and so on. Try not to leave out any valuable piece of information and to ask everything that interests you – bring a list if you have to. Of course, you must do a search based on these criteria on your own too, but the counselor might have some information not available to you. Visit teachers that are related to your future field of study and ask them for advice too. Often teachers have to select students they want to send to scholarship competitions and reminding them that you exist and that you have ambitions in their field might make them want to consider you. If you don’t reach out to anyone, they won’t know you need help and the useful information is less likely to reach you.
If you already have a good idea about the career you’d like to pursue, try getting in touch with as many people as possible from that field. If you’re currently working somewhere, make sure to check does your employer have a sponsorship program available, even if you don’t hope to continue working in that field. Looking for scholarships directly at the potential employers’ is a good strategy for students interested in less popular and rare education profiles, because they are often not eligible for many other scholarships available to most students. Email their HR department or try to schedule a meeting trough someone you know who works there. It’s not wrong to ask for small favors in such serious matters.
Visit local non-profit organizations that you’ve worked with previously. If you’ve given to your community before, it’s not wrong to see can you get something back now. If you’re truly devoted to a cause that organization stands for, maybe you can cooperate with them on a project that can be used for scholarship competition. A lot of scholarships givers want to help students who are well-rounded, and they value some other things more than a perfect GPA.
Of course, we’ve focused a bit more on personal approach so far, but we mustn’t forget all the perks that come with modern times. A well thought out search that includes all parameters will give you a lot of options. A lot of search engines can be found online, but in general, stay with the ones that are free and that don’t offer magical unrealistic solutions. Try out more than one and recheck them regularly. Look for search engines that allow you to save your top picks, so you can keep track of requirements and deadlines for multiple scholarships simultaneously. You have enough time; even if you believe you’ve started too late, there are new contests being opened every day.