Flying Dog
Back to Advice

How to Find the Best Scholarships for You

The worst way to apply for scholarships is by using the so-called "shotgun" approach. This is where you blast out an application, often hastily written, to every scholarship that you find. Unfortunately, this approach will only result in a pile of rejections.

To win a scholarship, you need to be selective about which ones you apply to. This means that for every 10 or so scholarships you find, you may only end up applying to one of them. But how do you find the scholarships that are right for you?

Start by throwing your scholarship net far and wide. To find the right scholarship you need to have a lot to choose from. This means you need to begin by finding a lot of scholarships. Search the Internet, scour scholarship books, talk to your counselor and look in your community. Your job is to find as many scholarships that you could apply for. Don't worry yet if you actually will apply for all of these awards.

Look for scholarships in your interests. Instead of finding scholarships that match your interests, why not look at your interests to find scholarships. For example, if you are involved in speech and debate, look at both your local speech team as well as the National Forensic League for scholarships. If you are interested in computer graphics, check out all of the makers of the software and hardware that you use for awards. If you have a part-time job, ask your employer. In other words, turn your scholarship search inside out, and look for scholarships within your interests.

Focus on your community. One of the best places to find scholarships is in your community. Not only are a there a lot of awards, but also many of them are specifically designed to help students within the community. Service organizations, such as the Lions Club and Rotary Club, for example, specifically try to help students within the community to go to college. Therefore, as a resident of the community you are already pre-qualified.

Read your local newspaper. Community newspapers often announce scholarship winners. Use this information to learn about local scholarship opportunities and also to do some research on who wins the scholarships. For example, if you read profiles of scholarship winners that sound similar to you, then this may be a good scholarship for you.

Ask for help from your college financial aid officer or high school counselor. These are two people who spend their days thinking about how to make college affordable for students like you. Take advantage of their efforts. Your financial aid officer can direct you to scholarships available to students at the college, and your high school counselor probably has a list of awards applicable to students at your school.

Get Mom and Dad in on the action. Don't think that you have to find scholarships on your own. Ask your parents to inquire about scholarships through their church or religious organization, groups that they belong to, professional associations and their employers or unions.

Start eliminating scholarships that don't match you. While you could technically apply for a scholarship that is aimed at future doctors, if you have no interest in medicine and no desire to enter the medical field, then you should cross this off your list. Look at your list of scholarships with the idea of eliminating those that simply don't match your background and talents. Don't feel bad about eliminating awards since each scholarship that you remove means less time wasted and more time you can spend on the scholarships that you can win.

Prioritize your scholarships. After you have eliminated the obvious awards that don't match you, the next step is to prioritize the awards that do. You will need to be familiar with each scholarship and understand the goals behind the scholarship's organization reason for giving the award. You might find that one scholarship wants to reward students who do a lot of community service while another is looking for student leaders. While you qualify for both, you realize that you have a lot more community service experience than leadership experience. This means you should prioritize the community service award over the leadership award.

Consider timing. There's more to your life than applying for scholarships, which means that you will need to consider deadlines when deciding which scholarships to apply to. You simply can't apply to every scholarship, and you'll need to use this as another way to prioritize.

When applying for scholarships, put away the shotgun and pull out your laser gun. You want to have pinpoint focus in which scholarships to apply to and not be afraid to eliminate scholarships that simply do not fit you.

Back to Advice