Last Updated: Feb 16, 2016
You have your acceptance letters and you’re getting ready to send in your final decision to your top-choice school. There’s only one thing standing between you and your first day as a student: tuition. Paying for school is one of the most stressful and challenging obstacles you will face when applying for and enrolling in college. Whether you’re going to a private or even a public school, the hefty tuition is going to hit you like a truck. But that’s why scholarships exist!
Plenty of businesses, families, and foundations establish these awards to help make the cost of college a little less daunting, in hopes that more students will continue to seek higher education. The real question, though, is how to find these scholarships and win them.
You’ve most likely already applied for at least one scholarship if you’re reading this article: the CollegeXpress $10,000 scholarship. All you have to do is sign up for a CollegeXpress account to enter for this scholarship, and it’s well worth it. (Editor’s note: thanks for the shout out, Cecily!) CollegeXpress also has a super helpful scholarship search tab, so make sure you take the time to apply for any and every scholarship that fits you. (You can spend hours, maybe even days, on there—don’t worry, we won’t judge you.) Other helpful websites for scholarships are out there too, like Scholarships.com, Scholarship Points, and Chegg. You could earn thousands of dollars for college if you take the time to search online. Also, your high school counselor probably knows lots of extra resources for scholarships available in your community.
People give out money for practically anything; Duck Tape has a scholarship for making prom outfits out of their tape, and the Vegetarian Resource Group could give you $10,000 just for being a vegetarian. Part of your scholarship search can include doing Google searches for “scholarship” plus any one of the traits and hobbies that make you unique. Make a list of those things—from where your family comes from to the sports you play to your favorite books and movies.
Related: The 3 Steps to Winning Scholarships
Most colleges also give out merit awards and need-based financial aid. Don’t forget to submit your FAFSA, so you’re considered for each and every award offered at your school. And make sure all your grades, sports, and activities in high school reflect the kind of student you really are. Obviously, colleges are more interested in awarding scholarships to someone who has a 3.7 GPA, is on the tennis team, and is an active member in three clubs than someone who is barely passing their classes and isn’t involved.
The most important thing to remember when searching for scholarships? Take your time. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t win that $5,000 scholarship, because there are always more to apply for. Don’t be afraid to write an essay (they’re usually not that long, anyway), and don’t be afraid to create a project. Put in the time and effort so your scholarship applications stand out!
So many opportunities are waiting for you. All you have to do is find them.