Starting your scholarship search
It’s that time of year to wrap up your college applications! Or maybe if you are a little behind, you’re just getting started, and we’re here to help if you need any assistance along the way. If you’re either a high school senior or a college transfer applicant, you’re probably juggling a lot already between schoolwork, applications, and commitments, but I think there is one incredibly important thing you should start to consider now in the month of October: scholarships!
Every year, students get billions of dollars to help fund their education, whether that be money from grants and loans, work study, or scholarships! I love scholarships because they are often huge sums of money that you can earn for just writing a couple of essays.
One huge taboo about scholarships is that they are only available to the most high-achieving students! This is totally wrong, in fact, there are three main kinds of scholarships:
This means that no matter your background or financial situation, you are probably eligible for some scholarships out there and you just need to find them. I’ve heard it said time and time again that many scholarships are left unclaimed, or very few students apply. I totally surprised myself when I just took a leap of faith and applied to some really popular national scholarships, and became a semi-finalist!
Many scholarships start at $500 or $1000, and they only go up from there! I was extremely fortunate to have a wonderful college advisor free at my high school, and an online system that helped me with my scholarship search. In case these resources aren’t available to you, here’s my best advice to start:
1. Check out some of my favorite scholarship search engines that have thousands of options available to you. These sites have a bunch of filters so you can make sure you fit the eligibility criteria.
2. Reach out to local community groups, especially non-profits or philanthropic organizations! In my hometown, the Rotary Club, Elks Lodge, and Kiwanis Club are some of the most generous donors that set up yearly college funds for their community. I didn’t even have to approach these organizations as they did a great job of advertising their scholarships, but it can’t hurt to ask! I especially recommend these smaller, local scholarships because you generally have a higher rate of winning the award given a smaller pool of applicants.
3. Familiarize yourself with FAFSA (Federal Application for Free Student Aid) and your financial aid status. It’s quite possible that you might already be eligible for a fully or partially paid tuition with state or federal grants, which will already drastically reduce your college costs! However, these grants will never cover your housing situation, and this is still a significant cost (in the case of UC Berkeley, living in the dorm costs as much as your tuition). Luckily, if you start searching for scholarships you can start to lessen your college costs before you even enroll.
In total, I personally applied to over 25 scholarships before my freshman year of college, and earned about half of those. I truly believe earning all these funds changed my college experience and alleviated a huge burden on my family, so I hope you can earn some money as well and I’m here to help.
I have so many other tips and tricks for helping fund this exciting chapter, so please feel free to book a College and Career Coaching Call with me if you want more advice. Happy scholarship hunting!
Katia is a consultant on the Study Hall College Consulting team. She recently graduated from UC Berkeley in May 2021 with a B.S. in Chemistry and a minor in CalTeach/STEM Education. Katia is also a Regents' and Chancellor's Scholarship Recipient. For more application and essay tips, check out our Study Hall College Consulting website at: shcollegeconsulting.com.
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