Finding scholarships can significantly reduce the cost of college, and the sooner you start, the better. Scholarships are free money that doesn’t need to be paid back, and summer is an excellent time for your high schooler to focus on the search without the distractions of schoolwork. As a parent, your role is to provide guidance and support. Encourage your high schooler to take the lead in the application process, but be there to help with research, proofreading, and keeping track of deadlines. Here’s how you can help your teen find scholarships and boost their chances of winning.

Where to Look for Scholarships

Online Scholarship Databases: Websites like Fastweb, Scholarships.com, and College Board’s Scholarship Search can connect you with scholarships tailored to your profile and offer a wide range of opportunities.

Social Media Platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are goldmines for scholarship opportunities. Follow scholarship pages, groups, and hashtags like #scholarship, #scholarshipopportunity, and #collegescholarship. Many organizations and companies post scholarships on their social media profiles.

Niche Scholarships: There are scholarships for almost every hobby and interest, no matter how unique. Whether your student is passionate about duck calling, knitting, or gaming, there are scholarships for these interests. Research niche scholarships that align with your student’s hobbies.

Professional Associations: Many associations and trade organizations offer scholarships to students pursuing careers in their fields. For instance, the American Medical Association offers scholarships for future doctors, and the National Society of Professional Engineers provides scholarships for aspiring engineers.

Corporate Scholarships: Some companies offer scholarships to employees’ children, local students, or those pursuing specific fields. Check with large local employers, national corporations, and even small businesses.

Religious Organizations: Churches, synagogues, mosques, and other religious institutions often provide scholarships to their members. Religious foundations also offer scholarships to students of specific faiths or those studying religion or theology.

Military Scholarships: The ROTC and various branches of the armed forces offer numerous scholarships and programs for students interested in military service. These can cover substantial college expenses in exchange for service after graduation.

Alumni Associations: Many colleges have alumni associations that offer scholarships to incoming students. These are often less advertised, so contact the alumni associations of the colleges your student is interested in.

Cultural and Ethnic Organizations: Organizations focusing on specific ethnic or cultural groups often provide scholarships to support students from those backgrounds. Examples include the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the United Negro College Fund, and the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund.

 

Common Myths About Scholarships

Myth 1: Only Straight-A Students Get Scholarships. While some scholarships are based on academic performance, many focus on extracurricular activities, community service, or unique talents and interests.

Myth 2: Only Seniors Can Apply. Many scholarships are open to students in all high school grades, and some even to younger students.

Myth 3: It’s Too Much Work. Applying for scholarships takes effort, but the payoff can be huge. Many applications require similar information so that you can reuse essays and resumes.

Crafting Winning Applications

  1. Read Instructions Carefully: Understand and follow each scholarship’s requirements precisely.
  2. Showcase Your Strengths: Highlight your achievements, experiences, and goals. Be proud of what makes you unique.
  3. Write Compelling Essays: If an essay is required, make it personal and compelling by sharing your story and explaining why you deserve the scholarship.
  4. Gather Strong Recommendations: Ask teachers, coaches, or community leaders who know you well to write recommendation letters.
  5. Proofread: Ensure your application is free from spelling and grammar mistakes.

 

Staying Organized and Persistent

  • Track Deadlines and Requirements: Use a calendar or spreadsheet to manage your applications. Set reminders for upcoming deadlines and ensure you have all the necessary documents and information ready.
  • Don’t Get Discouraged: Keep applying, even if you don’t win every scholarship. Remember, persistence is key, and it increases your chances significantly.
  • Save Copies of Applications: Keep records of everything you submit if you need to refer to them later.

Remember, there are scholarships out there for every type of student. With effort and persistence, your high schooler can find and win the scholarships they need to help pay for college. Happy hunting!

 

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