When beginning a scholarship search realize a couple of things: It is hard work, but hard work can pay off. You will get told no. There are two main parts of obtaining scholarships; searching and applying, both of which take time.
You have searched for scholarships, now organize your data: Start a three ring binder with eight dividers labeled as: Scholarship Log, Scholarship Applications, FAFSA, Personal Statement or Essay, Resume, Community Service Log, Letters of Recommendation, Official Transcripts. Put due dates on your planner, calendar, phone, computer, etc.
Gather other documents to assist in the application process: Personal statement or essay (short and long term goals). In your essay be sure to highlight your talents, strengths, and gifts. Focus on obstacles AND HOW YOU OVERCAME THEM, what did you learn about yourself? Talk about experiences that have shaped who you are today. Then, based on where you are applying, you can focus on why you are pursuing scholarship funds. Review it! Use others to help give you feedback.
Letters of recommendation:
- Get to know your professors, academic advisors, and community leaders
- Ask for these letters 3-5 weeks before they are needed
- Ask for at least 5 to 10 copies on official letterhead from the person
- Help the person writing you a letter
- Provide them with a letter of what you are asking for, especially when specifics need to be addressed
- Look on the web for “tips for writing letters of recommendations” that pertain to you and provide this to them
- Give them your scholarship essay and your resume
- Write a thank you note!
Other things to keep in mind:
- You will need some large mailing envelopes and some note cards to send thank you notes. A Dollar Store is a great resource for this.
- Send thank you notes to all places that have helped you in this process; your academic advisor for a letter of recommendation; the places you have applied to even if you do not receive a scholarship.
- If someone wrote you a letter of recommendation, and you end up receiving a scholarship, consider sending them another thank you note.
You should also be persistent in seeking out other scholarship sources. Sometimes all it takes to get a scholarship is to find out who in your area is offering them: your church, your employer, your parents' employers, local civic organizations. You'll just need to fill out any required applications or interviews on time in order to be considered.
Hit the books. Doing research can help you find scholarships you may not have otherwise known about. Most public and campus libraries carry scholarship guides. Ask your librarian or guidance counselor for help. Also look under "financial aid," "student aid," and "scholarships."
Ask employers. Your parents might already be aware if scholarships are provided for children of employees. If not, the human resource department is usually the place to check to find out what is available. The staff there should be able to provide applications, deadlines, and any other information you'll need. If you are employed, check with your employer to see if scholarships are available. Be sure to get any application forms and information about deadlines and complete the process on time.
Check local scholarships. Many community organizations, churches, and clubs offer scholarships. Your high school guidance counselor should be able to provide information about most of them, and can refer you to sponsors who can provide applications and information.
Search the Net. Using keywords like those mentioned earlier, you can find a wealth of free scholarship information on the World Wide Web. Some sites even allow you to apply online for scholarships. But, be careful . . .
Don't Get Scammed! Unfortunately, in their efforts to pay the bills, many students and their families are falling prey to scholarship scams. For more information on avoiding scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission's "Scholarship Scams" page. The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace.
In researching sources of college funding, students are encouraged to seek out sources that provide free services and information, such as those listed below. OSU does not endorse any for-profit scholarship search service. Some helpful websites are listed below.
Federal Student Aid Scholarship Search