I was strongly encouraged to earn an education. My parents had saved some money over the years to help with school, but being the youngest of eight children and the daughter of teachers, I couldn’t expect to have money to cover the entire cost of college. Since college was my goal, I prepared and applied for scholarships. Because of those scholarships, I was able to receive my bachelor’s degree without any student loans or debt.
Scholarships are an essential tool most people don’t think about when they are considering college. They can’t be earned last minute and take immense preparation, but to graduate without debt is worth all the hassle.
Obscene Amounts of Scholarship Money Is Wasted Each Year
Students have all sorts of reasons for not applying for scholarships. They aren’t the top of their class, they don’t want the hassle of applying, they didn’t score high enough on ACT or SATs, and the list goes on. According to the Washington Post, the database fastweb.com has over 1.5 million scholarships, equaling more than $3.4 billion. There is a scholarship out there that fits who you are as a person, and possibly only you.
According to Scholarship America’s CEO Clifford Stanley, millions of dollars in scholarships go unused. Only one student out of every 10 at four year colleges has some kind of scholarship.
Don’t count yourself out before you give scholarships a try. You will not regret the time spent and energy put into applying for scholarships.
Tips to Remember When Applying for Scholarships
Before you decide to apply for a scholarship, here are some thoughts to consider and items to remember.
- Search out all the different scholarship opportunities. Don’t just settle for school scholarships. US News suggests looking into scholarships through your community, potential school, church, and civic organizations. Don’t be afraid to ask everyone and apply for all and any. But, be advised, if you have to pay money to get scholarship advice, it is most likely a scam.
- Once you are in a certain program or department, don’t forget about individual scholarships offered through the department, not the college. Jason Slack, a department head at Utah Valley University, said many scholarships go unclaimed in his department because people don’t know they are there and don’t ask.
- Know the deadlines of all the different scholarships. Along with knowing deadlines, know the different requirements to allow yourself time to correctly fill out each application.
- Take the time to fill out the application completely. Spell everything correctly and have others proof read it to make sure everything looks good.
- Be careful about who you ask to write recommendation letters. These letters can make or break your scholarship. Make sure you ask someone who can write well and will actually give you a good recommendation.
- Make your application stand out. Find unique things about you that set you apart from the other applicants.
- Get involved. It doesn’t matter what you are involved in, but take opportunities to explore extracurricular activities, leadership, academics, community service. All these different avenues will look great to those deciding on who is awarded the scholarship.
Always Apply – Even if You Think You Aren’t the Most Qualified
Don’t just assume there is a better applicant out there. You never know if you will be awarded the scholarship. My junior year of college I decided I wouldn’t apply for a scholarship in my department. I knew some other people who were also applying and they had done more than I had in the department. I just knew I didn’t have a chance. My husband convinced me to just try. I got everything put together and applied to please him, really. I was shocked when I actually received the scholarship. Don’t count yourself out. Let the committee decide!
Applying for Scholarships are Absolutely worth the Hassle
The scholarships I received, varied over the years. I was awarded scholarships due to my grades, being in leadership positions while at college, from my specific department, and scholarships from individuals where I met the certain requirements. I am so grateful for the different scholarship opportunities that allowed me to graduate debt free.
I understand having student loans is necessary for some people, but I also know plenty of students who simply don’t apply for scholarships. They are worth all the work and hassle. Search out different scholarships, apply and see what happens. Any money earned through scholarships is money you don’t have to pay back once you graduate.