Scholarships aren't just available on the Internet; they're pretty much all around you. For example, look for local scholarships posted to bulletin boards near your high school guidance counselor's office or college's financial aid office. You can also find local awards posted at your public library near the jobs and careers section.
Open a Book
Scholarship listing books can also be a good source of information about scholarships. They are particularly handy for random exploration, where you open it to a random page and see what scholarships are listed. Before relying on a book, however, check the copyright date. About 10 percent of scholarships change in a significant way each year, so a book that is more than a year or two old is too old to be useful.
Read the Paper
The coupon section of the Sunday newspaper is also a good source of information about scholarships, since many national companies advertise their scholarships there. Many popular brands like Coca Cola, Tylenol, Discover, and Dr. Pepper sponsor scholarship programs.
One of the most common issues students encounter within their scholarship search is limiting themselves by scholarship amount. Small awards amounts add up, too, so apply for any and all scholarships you qualify for, even if the amount is smaller.
Speak, Then Write
Students also dislike scholarships that require an essay because many don't feel confident in their writing skills. If you have trouble writing essays, try recording yourself as you answer the essay question out loud, then transcribe the recording. Most people speak at about 200 words per minute but write or type at 30 to 60 words a minute. The act of writing can interfere with the flow of thought whereas answering the question out loud also yields a more fluid and passionate essay.
Personalize Your Essay
Keep it interesting, since a trite essay will be boring. How did you affect other people and how did they affect you? Keep in mind that the person reviewing your application will be reading many essays and you want yours to keep their attention. Try to stand out and be memorable in a positive way.
Proofread your application before mailing it. The selection committee will be evaluating you by the way you write and an essay filled with spelling and grammar errors will give a bad impression and signify that you didn't care enough to take the time to review your application for errors.
The Simplest Way to Write an Essay
- Introduction paragraph
- What you'd like to discuss within your introduction paragraph
- Quotes or references, if any
- Thesis statement: What's the main point of your essay? Decide what you want to convey in your essay and put it into words. Your entire essay will revolve around this point, so make sure you're clear and concise in your phrasing. (This is usually placed near the end of your introduction paragraph.)
- First paragraph topic that supports your thesis
- List supporting quotes/references: Find quotes from reputable sources that support what you've stated within your thesis and that relate to your first paragraph topic.
- Second paragraph topic that supports your thesis
- Third paragraph topic that supports your thesis
- Conclusion paragraph: Note what you'd like to say within your conclusion paragraph. Your conclusion paragraph should detail how you are going to unite the topics from your aforementioned topics and weave them together into one solid point. Students commonly mistake a conclusion paragraph as a summary paragraph when, in fact, it's really an opportunity to drive home your argument. Your conclusion should round out your essay and unite your paragraphs together, solidifying your thesis.
- List all citations
Common Scholarship Essay Questions
- Your Field of Specialization and Academic Plans
- Current Events and Social Issues
- Personal Achievements
- Background and Influences
- Future Plans and Goals
- Financial Need