You've heard your teachers and parents say that there are hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars in scholarship money that go unused each year. However, what they don't tell you is that these 'unused' scholarships can be difficult to find, and often have criteria that you are simply not eligible for. But rest assured! Read on and you will discover a list of resources that will help you find a vast array of scholarships - all of which you are eligible for. With scholarship databases featuring advanced searches that allow you to enter in your location, program of study and GPA, and guidance counselors that have all the information on local funding, your chances of receiving a scholarship will skyrocket! What are you waiting for?
Get Help Writing Your Cover Letter And Resume
Chances are, most scholarship applications will have you upload your resume, as well as some form of cover letter or personal statement. If you don’t already have one, get working on it! And if you do, start tweaking it so it suits a scholarship application. Durham University has a great guide to writing a personal statement (click here), while McGill University has a useful online pamphlet on writing a C.V. (click here). And if you’re looking for examples to help you, all it takes is a simple google search.
Speak To A Guidance Counselor
Guidance counselors are a great resource when it comes to applying for scholarships. First of all, they’re easy to find and easy to book an appointment with as they’re located right in your high school. Second, their job is to help you and they understand that applying for scholarships can be particularly stressful for students. Finally, guidance counselors will be able to talk to you about any scholarships your own high school offers, and may have insight into scholarships in your local neighbourhood, as well as which colleges offer the most financial aid. Plus, they’re someone to talk to if you’re feeling especially nervous about college and finances.
Contact The Universities You’re Applying To
Though it’s great to do a quick search online for scholarships offered by a specific university, it never hurts to speak to someone over the phone. Call the financial aid offices of the universities you’re interested in applying to and ask them if they can give you a bit more information about the scholarships they have available. The financial aid office should be able to tell you all of the general undergraduate scholarships you’re eligible for, as well as if there are any in the specific department or faculty in which you are applying. By speaking to someone in person, you can also ask any questions related to the application process or deadline that might be worrying you. You may even have the added bonus of learning what new scholarships are being awarded this year before they come out on the website!
Try These Online Scholarship Databases
There are several scholarship databases out there, and though they can be a bit tedious, they will give you access to scholarships from all over the world. Plus, they now have advanced search options that allow you to create a profile and enter in information such as GPA, financial status, year of study, program of study, and location of study, so you know that the results will actually be relevant to your circumstances. Plus, they all send email updates now so you don’t have to be constantly logging in when you want to find out the latest scholarship news. StudentAwards and Scholarships.com are two great databases to get you started.
Attend A College Fair
It’s a great idea to attend a college fair when you want to learn more about financial aid and are in the midst of applying to scholarships. Most high schools will hold a small college fair of their own, but if the schools you’re most interested in are not in attendance, often cities hold college fairs downtown that attract universities from farther away. Attending a college fair once again gives you the opportunity to speak with representatives from the university in person. However, it also means you will be gathered in a place with hundreds of other students, many of which are in the same boat as you. Take the time to mingle with other students, you never know what scholarship opportunities you’ll learn about.
Ask Your Employer Or Your Parent’s Employer
If you or your parents work for a fairly large corporation, chances are they have a scholarship program for employees or the children of employees. You can try searching it up online, though sometimes employer scholarships programs are more private. So if you don’t find anything online, ask your boss (and ask your parents to ask their bosses). Though it does depend on the size of the company and the number of scholarships they have available, typically there is a higher chance you will receive a scholarship from an employer because it is private and so there will be less competition.
Search Local Organizations
Local organizations such as charities, community centers, or religious groups often have scholarship programs specifically for students in the local neighbourhood. Again, you can try searching online, checking out the local ads, or visiting some of these places in-person. You never know what you might find!
QUICK TIP: Make sure to check out the entrance scholarships offered by the colleges you’re applying to. Entrance scholarships typically require no application and are based solely on academic standing - you could receive a scholarship without even knowing you were eligible!
THE TAKE-HOME: Don’t give up! Search your heart out and use the resources at your disposal. Look up all different types of scholarships. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that there really is a scholarship out there for every type of student. While some put weight on academic standing, others put weight on athletics, extracurriculars, financial need, or even religious/ethnic background. Look into scholarships for specific programs, but also more broadly for the university or state in which you are applying, some student residences even offer scholarships so you could have a discount on your accommodation. Explore your options!