Finding scholarships is challenging, and it's no different this year. There are millions of scholarships available, so the task can feel overwhelming at first. However, if you develop a good plan, you can find and apply for scholarships that you have a good chance of winning. Today we are sharing some tips on how to get scholarships in 2023.
Start Your Scholarship Search Early
If possible, start looking for scholarships before you are a senior. Even if scholarship applications are not open, you could begin researching the types of scholarships that are out there. While there are millions of private (outside) scholarships, many of the high value ones are offered by colleges. In some cases, you will have to submit a separate application for scholarships offered through colleges (institutional scholarships), while others do not require one.
Getting a head start will spare you from unnecessary stress down the road. Once you hit senior year, your responsibilities will quadruple. You will have college applications, AP and ACT tests to worry about, and the list goes on. Starting early can make the process more manageable.
Use A Scholarship Search Engine
It can be overwhelming to know where to start when looking for scholarships. However, our comprehensive scholarship database provides a great starting point. It allows you to flip through over 1.9 million scholarships.
You can use the filter to narrow your search to only the most relevant scholarship opportunities, you can filter your searches based on demographic and other criteria, including:
- State of Residence
- Area of Study
- Type of Study (full-time or part-time)
- Amount (minimum award amount)
- Application Deadline
- Financial Need
Filtering your search results will allow you to view a list of customized scholarships to save time. Create an account if you'd like to save them.
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Once you know what opportunities are available, begin curating a list of scholarships to which you want to apply. Start a spreadsheet with all the scholarship applications you wish to submit. You’ll want to jot down each application's deadlines, requirements, and other pertinent information.
Like college applications, different scholarship applications will have varying requirements and deadlines. It takes some effort to keep track of multiple scholarship applications. Read the instructions carefully to determine what information a scholarship application might require, such as a letter of recommendation. Keep documents such as essay drafts in one folder on your computer.
Consider creating a “brag sheet” or list of your proudest accomplishments. Putting a brag sheet together will help you have a better idea of what to talk about in not only your college applications but also your scholarship applications.
Leverage Personal Connections and Local Resources
Reaching out to your network and your network’s network is a great way to get scholarships. Someone in your circle might know of a scholarship (or two) for which you might qualify.
In some cases, your parents' employers might offer scholarships. And if you have a part-time job, it's a good idea to check with your employer to see if they offer any scholarships or tuition assistance.
And while you're at it, don't forget your high school counselor. More than likely, they will know all the scholarships available and the ones other students that graduated before you won. Check with your teachers too. In many cases, they might have written a letter of recommendation for other students.
Don’t Overlook Local Scholarships
While you should go after the big national scholarships like Coca Cola and Gates Scholarship, don't overlook the small local ones. Many scholarships are only available to students from your local school district or state. Your state might also have some scholarships or grants reserved for students from your state. For e.g., in Georgia there is
In addition, local civic organizations like the Rotary offer scholarships that are not publicly advertised. These organizations might instead work directly with school counselors or specific representatives from your school. This is why it's so important to talk to your counselor. You might also find them listed on your school's college planning database (for e.g., Naviance), or a shared Google spreadsheet.
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Write and Edit Your Scholarship Essay
When you're ready to apply, don't overlook the importance of a well-written essay. Use your essay to fill our your story. It's only so much you can mention in a typical application. However, the essay is your chance to demonstrate your writing skills and showcase the qualities that set you apart from other candidates. Here are a few things you can do from draft to final essay to improve the quality of work you submit.
Read Your Essay Out Loud
Sometimes your eyes can glaze over after reading your essay a few times. Reading your essay out loud, can put your ear to work. It can sometimes catch mistakes or clunky wording your eyes can’t. If you like, you can even record yourself reading the essay out loud and then listen back to it for a more thorough approach to editing. Make sure sounds conversational.
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Tools like spellcheck and autocorrect are your friends in any type of professional or academic writing. Another favorite AI-powered editing software is Grammarly, which offers real-time suggestions for your essay. It helps you create easier-to-read sentences and replace repetitive or outdated language. It also provides suggestions for spelling, punctuation, and grammar. It’s a reliable way to catch mistakes in your writing.
Have Someone Workshop with You
Getting a couple of other pair of eyes on your essay before submitting can be helpful. It’s good to have multiple perspectives on a piece of writing, but not too many. If you have a trusted adult or teacher who could provide feedback without completely rewriting your work, ask them for help. Try asking a friend if you can swap essays and give each other feedback. It can be helpful to talk to someone who knows what you’re aiming to achieve and who’s in the same situation.
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Applying for scholarships is time consuming. However, if you start early to do your research and submit a top notch application, your efforts will be rewarded. Give it your all, and remember to breathe.
PS: Visit our free college scholarship database to find a scholarship opportunity to save you money.
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