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3 Easy Strategies to Increase Your Scholarship Eligibility

Scholarships can be big game changers for many students in paying for college. Increase your qualifications for scholarship eligibility with these tips!

Scholarships aren’t only for top academic or athletic students. Criteria for scholarship awards from sponsoring companies, organizations, and foundations can vary dramatically. Their applications and requirements will typically reflect what the sponsor honors, appreciates, or celebrates, and these private scholarships can typically be used at any educational institution. During your scholarship search, you will come across some awards that are referred to as “fixed criteria scholarships," which may have requirements related to race, religion, physical features, gender, nationality, or geographic location. With fixed criteria scholarships, you’ll either be qualified to apply or not. Fortunately, there are other categories of scholarship awards in which you have some control over your eligibility. They include academic achievement, career focus, and extracurricular impact. Here’s how any student can strategically take action to improve their candidacy for awards in these key areas. 

1. Academic eligibility: Seek opportunities to increase your GPA

Many scholarships require a minimum grade point average (GPA) to qualify. There’s a scholarship myth that you must have an extremely high GPA in order to qualify for awards; that’s not true. In fact, many scholarships only require a minimum 2.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale—which is easily attainable for most students. Becca’s Closet scholarships are a good example of awards with low GPA requirements. But the higher your cumulative GPA is, the more opportunities will be available to you, so take some action to raise your GPA as much as possible. Ask for extra credit projects from any teacher or professor who allows it. Ask if it’s possible to rewrite a paper/essay or retake a quiz, test, or exam if the grade you initially received is low. If your strength is public speaking rather than writing, ask if you can present an assignment to the class for extra credit. Remember that every class you have impacts your overall GPA, so if you’re struggling in a class, ask for extra help. Increasing your overall GPA can open new doors to more scholarship awards.

Related: 10 Tips to Improve Your High School GPA

2. Career focus eligibility: Explore your career interests

There are many scholarships for students who are pursuing specific fields. These scholarship opportunities are offered at the high school level as well as the undergraduate, graduate, and advanced professional degree levels. For example, The Trotter Project’s scholarships are awarded to high school seniors as well as current college students who are pursuing careers in the culinary arts or hospitality industries. To increase your eligibility and stand out among other candidates, become a student who has gained additional insight into your career field. Consider volunteering in your chosen field each week for a few hours. You could also interview several people in your chosen field, seek out a mentor, or even intern for a company or organization. By taking on these actions, you’ll become a candidate with demonstrated initiative in pursuit of a given career.

3. Extracurricular impact eligibility: Be a leader outside the classroom

Many students are involved in activities outside of the classroom, including sports, jobs, clubs, community service, and artistic and creative organizations—but there’s a huge difference between a student who joined a club and a student who led one. Leadership skills are developed over time. Start developing those skills now by seeking out opportunities where you can learn from other student leaders. Organize, run, or make something happen that would not have happened without you. Students with demonstrated impact in a club, group, or community will stand out in the scholarship application process from those who simply joined and participated. The International Scholarship for Women, for example, awards women with a proven dedication to empowering other women through volunteerism and civic work.

Related: Leadership in High School: What Does It Mean?

By choosing to strategically increase your efforts in your academic, career, and extracurricular eligibility, you can stand out from other candidates and qualify for more potential scholarship opportunities. Good luck in your scholarship search!

To start finding scholarships you’re eligible for, use the Scholarship Search tool right here on CollegeXpress.

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About Jean O'Toole

Jean O’Toole is an educational consultant and author of the bestselling book Scholarship Strategies: Finding and Winning the Money You Need. Over the past 15 years, she has helped tens of thousands of students in the United States. Individuals collectively have been awarded millions of dollars by applying Jean’s scholarship strategies. In 2008, Jean co-founded Connections101, a company specializing in providing motivational tools for scholarship searching. It is her goal to empower students to design their paths to their future without college debt. Visit Connections101.com for more information, and follow Jean on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

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Jada Bohanon

Jada Bohanon

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me find scholarships for the colleges I applied to. It was very hard for me to find scholarships in the beginning that I was qualified for. My teachers recommended this website to find some, and not only did I find some scholarships but I also got to look into some schools I hadn’t heard of before. I was very happy to have discovered this website, especially with the coronavirus spreading all over as I can’t really go visit many colleges.

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High School Class of 2020

CollegeXpress has helped me with the college application process. The tips and tricks for important essays were so helpful. I also gained useful knowledge about college life. Even though I’m fully online, CollegeXpress has helped me develop a sense of how college is in person. The experiences from college students that were featured on their Instagram page have shown the good, the bad, and the “secret” life on campus from a reliable perspective. Not to mention, they relieved my feelings of anxiety about the workload. I can now understand how it can be stressful, but it takes self-control and willpower to get assignments completed on time and with quality.

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Jenna

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me greatly during my college search. I used their college search feature often and it helped in comparing schools I was looking at. Now that I’ve found a college the scholarship search feature is helping me find a way to find my college experience. CollegeXpress has many helpful features and resources for anyones college search, it truly is a wonderful tool for anyone entering college level!

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Katie

High School Class of 2019

My favorite feature of CollegeXpress is the scholarship search. As someone going out of state for college, I needed all the financial help I could get, and CollegeXpress helped me easily find scholarships I could apply for to help fund my education.

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