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How to Expand Your Reach and Find Scholarships in Hidden Places

Scholarships can be found in the most unexpected of places. Here's how to find the right people to help you find the right scholarships for you.

One of the most common reasons students miss out on scholarship awards is because they haven’t expanded their search beyond their school counselor’s office and online search engines. But before there was the internet, students had to find scholarships somehow, right? Expanding your search for scholarships can be done easily, and doing so could open the doors to hundreds more scholarship opportunities and thousands of additional scholarship dollars. Here’s who you should ask to help you widen your search.

Use your team

We all have various people on our “team,” people in our life who can be extremely helpful in finding scholarships. Reach out to relatives and friends through social media and let them know the different types of scholarships you’re seeking. For example, your post might say, “Hi! I could really use your help. I’m looking for scholarships related to engineering, soccer, community service, and poetry. If you find or have heard of any, can you let me know?” You may be surprised how helpful this can be. Your relatives and friends may discover and send you scholarship opportunities that are a perfect fit for you. Keep your team in the loop with your scholarship progress throughout your college career—scholarships are available every year of your high school and college education. Your team can provide moral support as well as additional scholarship tips that could potentially lead to additional funds for you.

Related: 3 Strategies to Increase Your Scholarship Eligibility

Connect with the trailblazers

You’re not the first person to seek out scholarships, nor will you be the last. Save your time by leaning on those who’ve completed the research in the past with success. Ask yourself, “Who has already researched scholarships that may be a good fit for me?” Connecting with alumni from your high school or college is an incredible way to save time on the scholarship search. Connect with your counselor’s office to learn who the top scholarship award winners have been in the past several years and ask to be put in touch with them. Or connect with the alumni and financial aid departments at your college and ask who the top winning scholarship recipients have been and how you can reach them. 

Partner with a friend

You only have so much time available to search for scholarships. Along your search, you’ll absolutely come across scholarships that aren’t a good fit for you. However, they could be a good fit for someone else you know. Exchange information with a friend about the types of scholarships you’re both looking for. Whenever you find a scholarship for your friend, text it to them. You’ll be helping them out, and it’ll remind them to keep their eyes out for options for you too. By partnering with a friend (or several) as you search for scholarships, you’ll find more potential opportunities and keep each another motivated in the process.

Related: 3 Smart and Easy Strategies to Win More Scholarships

Recognizing that you don’t have to travel the scholarship road on your own can help you find more awards and stay engaged and focused during your search. I want every student out there to spend more time applying for scholarships rather than just searching for them, but that requires being smart in the ways you search for them. The money is out there, and it’s just waiting for you to find it.

Looking for more scholarship opportunities? Use the CollegeXpress Scholarship Search tool to find billions of dollars in awards!

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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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Carlie Cadet

High School Class of 2019

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High School Class of 2020

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My mother signed me up for a couple of scholarship contests through CollegeXpress. I was also able to do some research and compare the different schools on my list. I was able to see the graduation rates and different programs that helped me decide on Adelphi University. I will continue looking for some scholarships for my start in September.

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College Student

For the entire year before college, I spent a lot of time deeply considering what major I wanted to go into and how to fund my higher education. After a lot of research, I came across CollegeXpress, which helped me ultimately find a ton of scholarships for which I could apply—and some of which I received! If it weren’t for CollegeXpress, I may not have found those scholarships as they didn't appear on any other scholarship search forum. Additionally, I learned more about the options I had been considering for my major through CollegeXpress’s resources. In the end, I chose to major in Computer Science, as it seemed best suited to me and the careers in the field seemed enjoyable, and I've never been more excited to move into my future! Ultimately, I want to thank CollegeXpress for offering their services. I received enough financial aid in scholarships to fund my entire freshman year of college and even got some money refunded which I used to purchase a new laptop, and I bought all of the books I needed for the semester!

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