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Scholarship Tips

Updated on June 21, 2016
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Cali has found dozens of scholarships over the past few years and will graduate from high school in June of 2016.

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When should I start looking for scholarships?

Many people don't even start thinking about paying for college until their junior or senior year of high school, since that's when the college search generally begins. If you're a freshman or sophomore (or even in middle school!) and you're reading this article right now, great! If you're already a senior, that's great too, since the sooner you start looking for scholarships, the better.

Where can I find scholarships?

Scholarships can be found in two main ways: in your community or online. If you're like me, the hardest contests to find are those around your city. Bulletin boards sometimes display local scholarships; those boards can be found in businesses (think grocery stores or banks), churches, or in schools (usually near a counseling office or career center). Good sources for money also include your parents' employers or insurance companies (which sometimes offer discounts for your good grades).

However, the internet provides the easiest way to find scholarships. The rest of this article focuses on using the internet to your advantage.

Where should I search for scholarships?

There are several sites that allow you to search for scholarships:

Fastweb.com

If you want to use Fastweb, go ahead: it has lots of scholarships and makes it easy to find them. Unfortunately, I advise against using Fastweb for that same reason: it's so easy to find scholarships! Everyone who has ever searched online for a scholarship should have heard about Fastweb, and that means if you enter any of the scholarships they offer, you'll be competing against a huge group of people. That lowers your odds of winning by a lot.

Scholarships.com

In my experience, Scholarships.com is a little better than Fastweb, if only for its numerous, specific categories. You can find scholarships based on religion, height, grades, number of siblings- pretty much anything you want you can find there. You'll want to use the Scholarships by Type page.

Google

Google is probably your best friend throughout this whole process. You can search anything you want. Try searching things like "scholarships for high school juniors" or "2016 volunteer scholarships". You can also try using your area in your search like "scholarships based on community service new york". Or, you can try searching for a popular phrase from applications in quotes, such as " "How will the money from this scholarship change your life?" ". Try anything you can think of that you're involved in- you never know who might be giving out money!

Local Scholarships


You can also try searching around your local community, from churches to coffee shops to groups like the American Legion. Places like this usually want some way to give back to their community and often do so by providing local students with money for college. Google can help with this too- just search something like "American Legion 2016 scholarship {your town}" and see if anything pops up. Local scholarships are definitely the best way to go if you can find them since the applicant pool is usually very small (although this depends on the size of your town).

How to Keep Track of Scholarships

So, you've found a bunch of scholarships. How should you keep track of them? After all, all your efforts to find the scholarships will be lost if you never end up applying for them. I have found a few ways that help me to make sure I never lose track of a scholarship.

Use bookmarks

I have a folder in my browser marked "Scholarships" and I bookmark any scholarships I find under this folder with the due date as the title. Then I can go to "chrome://bookmarks" and use the 'Sort' feature to put them in order of due date. (I don't know if this is available in browsers other than Chrome.) You can also make subfolders such as "Past/Completed Scholarships", "Scholarships for later" (for scholarships you aren't eligible for yet), or "Not open" (for scholarships that reopen every year but are currently closed). This bookmark system is best used in conjunction with my next tip:

Make a calendar

I use Google calendars to get a visual of when I have scholarships due. I can also put in other events, like sports or clubs to see when I will and won't be able to work on finishing the applications. You can even color code the scholarships when you add them to your calendar to distinguish easier scholarships from those that are harder or more time consuming. This doesn't have to be online- you can use or make your own paper calendar, but I find digital calendars to be much easier to edit and color code, and the boxes automatically get larger so you don't run out of space if you have a lot on one day.

Set reminders

Use your phone, use google calendars, use whatever you want, but you probably won't remember the due date of every scholarship you find. Make it easier on yourself and set reminders to let you know a week in advance that you need to get working! You can even break up the scholarship into smaller sections and set reminders for each piece (ex. set a reminder to finish your essay by a certain date, check up on your letters of recommendations, etc.) Stay organized and you'll have a better chance of getting the money you want!

Conclusion

Remember: you should never count yourself out for winning a scholarship, but you should prioritize the order in which you fill them out to make sure you apply for the scholarships you really think you'll win. Go get your free money!

How many scholarships have you applied for?

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