Get Scholarship Ready!
- Take the most challenging classes appropriate for your skill level.
- Work hard to earn the best grades possible. Seek out help if needed.
- Explore careers of interest and take the highest level of related high school classes.
- Get involved in your school community:
- Community Service
- Extracurricular Activities
- Volunteer Work
- Take advantage of leadership opportunities in school and community.
- Schedule college entrance exams as appropriate. A free ACT for all juniors will be provided in April.
- Create resume - keep a record of all activities, leadership roles, awards and community service.
- Consult with your school counselor, teachers and mentors to gain the most relevant information specific to your goals.
- Review transcript regularly to make sure grades and activities are accurate and up to date.
- Have ongoing discussions with your parents/guardians about your post high school plans and dreams.
Over 90% of scholarships awarded to graduating high school seniors are given by post-secondary institutions. Be sure to check for incoming freshman scholarships at the school you plan to attend, generally through the financial aid office.
What kinds of scholarships are available?
Some scholarships for college are merit-based. You earn them by meeting or exceeding certain standards set by the scholarship-giver. Merit scholarships might be awarded based on academic achievement or on a combination of academics and a special talent, trait, or interest. Other scholarships are based on financial need.
Many scholarships are geared toward particular groups of people; for instance, there are scholarships for women or high school seniors. And some are available because of where you or your parent, or because you come from a certain background (for instance, there are scholarships for military families).
A scholarship might cover the entire cost of your tuition, or it might be a one-time award of a few hundred dollars. Either way, it's worth applying for because it will help reduce the cost of your education. Know that you may apply for 20 scholarships and only receive a couple but make sure that you follow the directions and make each application neat and focused to what the sponsor is looking for. See the Scholarship Handout for more tips and information.
The Student Scholarship Search website has a ton of information about looking for scholarships and the financial aid proces.
How do I find scholarships?
You can learn about scholarships in several ways, including contacting the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend and checking information in a public library or online. But be careful - make sure scholarship information and offers you receive are legitimate and remember that you don't have to pay to find scholarships or other financial aid. Check out our information on how to avoid scams.
Try these free sources of information about scholarships:
- Your school counselor - make sure the office has your updated contact information for weekly announcements and check the Scholarship Site at your Counseling Center.
- The financial aid office at a college or career school - go directly to the colleges that you are applying to and search for scholarships on their sites.
- The Chamber of Commerce has a great website full of helpful information: Guide to Scholarships.
- The U.S. Department of Labor's FREE scholarship search tool or other search engines:
- Federal agencies
- Your library's reference section
- Foundations, religious or community organizations, local businesses or civic groups
- Organizations (including professional associations) related to your field of interest
- Ehnicity-based organizations
- Your employer or your parents'/guardians' employers
Scholarship Application Tips
Completing a scholarship application can be a difficult task. Below are some tips to help you complete your application and essays.
- Pay close attention to scholarship application deadlines as applications submitted past the deadline will not be considered. The first scholarship deadlines begin in the fall for the following school year.
- Neat appearances. Neatness, punctuation, grammar and spelling are important. Have someone read it over for you to make sure it looks and sounds good.
- Prepare letters of recommendation. Ask a few people to write letters of recommendation on your behalf so you will have them ready for future scholarship and college applications. Give people enough time to write the letter, but make sure you give them a date that you need the letter by. Prepare a scholarship resume outlining your involvement in activities in and out of school, community service and other information that you would like them to include.
- When writing your essays let your personality shine through. While scholastic achievements are important, in most cases, they are not the only items considered. Think about including your clubs, sports, volunteer and community involvement, honors and achievements, financial need, personal stories or valuable lessons learned.
- Thinking about common essay questions can help you prepare for a scholarship essay. Typical questions might include:
- What are your short and long-term goals?
- Describe any unusual family or personal circumstances that have affected your achievement in school?
- What are your work or extracurricular achievements?
- List experiences related to your field of study.
- Proofread your essays and applications in addition to having at least one other person proofread your application. Spelling errors or poor writing skills will have a negative effect on your chances to receiving the scholarship.
- Keep a copy of everything you submit!
- If you are notified that you have received a scholarship, always send a thank you note to the donor.
- Scholarships are a numbers game so the more you apply the more you will be likely to receive.
(Adapted from the Federal Student Aid Website.)