5 Tips to Start Your Scholarship Search

November 11, 2015

The college application process is no breeze. You need to decide where to apply, actually fill out applications, and then decide what school to attend. By the time you’ve gotten through the process, you’ve spent quite a bit of money, and are on the road to spending a lot more. Luckily, though, scholarships and grants are available to students across the board. But how do you find them? Here are the five best tips to help you get started:

1. Start early

This piece of advice seems like it would be pretty intuitive, yet tens of thousands of students each year fail to do it. By “early” I don’t mean the beginning of senior year—I mean really early, like at the beginning of the summer before senior year, or even during second semester junior year. You might think this sounds entirely unnecessary, but hear me out. A lot of people think all they have to do is write some personal statements, brag about their high school accomplishments, and maybe demonstrate their financial need, and they’re set to apply for dozens of scholarships. What they don’t take into account, in many cases, is how difficult the process of finding scholarships to apply for can be. There are tens of thousands of public and private scholarships that can be found through a simple Google search. It takes time to sort through everything and figure out which ones are actually worth applying for, so it’s best to get started early. Also, you’re already going to be pretty busy first semester senior year taking care of all your college applications—there’s no point in adding an extra burden on top of that.

2. Keep an organized list

Once you really start getting deep into your scholarship hunt, it becomes incredibly easy to lose track of which ones have what criteria and when each of them is due. There’s just too much going on. In order to avoid simple oversights like missing a deadline, it’s a good idea to make a comprehensive list of all the scholarships you’re applying for—you can track the due dates, requirements, scholarship amount, and your progress for all of the applications. An excel sheet is probably the most efficient way to do this, but if that seems too troublesome, just keeping the information in a MS Word document works as well. It’s a little extra effort, but it’s well worth it to make sure you don’t miss an opportunity to get money you need to help finance your education.

3. Narrow your search parameters

As mentioned before, there are way too many scholarships out there for you to spend your time trying to wade through the metaphorical slush pile to find the ones that are actually worth the effort. From the very beginning you should be searching for scholarships you know are specific to you. If you’re a first-generation college student, for example, you should focus on finding scholarships specifically for that category of students. If you’ve done a lot of community service, have impressive accomplishments in STEM, have held many important leadership positions, or are incredibly good at art, there are specific scholarships for those things as well. Narrowing your parameters not only makes your search more efficient, it also maximizes your chances of getting the scholarships you apply for because you’re competing with a smaller pool of applicants.

4. Don’t be afraid to go for the small awards

Some people don’t bother applying for scholarships less than several thousand dollars because they just don’t think it’s worth it. However, if you’re in a situation where you know money is going to be really tight, every dollar counts. Applying for scholarships and grants of, say, $3,000 or less can in fact be well worth your time precisely because so few people bother. Surprisingly, it’s not uncommon for certain scholarship programs to receive so few applicants that over half or three-quarters of the people who apply end up getting some kind of aid. This sometimes happen even with fairly large awards. Make other people’s apathy work to your advantage! If you think you fit the criteria of a scholarship, just go for it.

5. Use academic companies

In the current technology age, there are countless companies designed specifically to help students. Whether it’s aiding the application process or improving ways to write and edit, startups are constantly thinking of new ways to help. And while it’s important to monitor all other avenues to earn scholarships, it’s also worth looking into more companies. Startups like EditRevise and CollegeXpress offer straightforward and easy-to-apply-to scholarships. Here at AdmitSee, we’re also looking to help - we offer scholarships to both high school and college students to help in hopes of helping them afford higher education. Not only are these scholarships simple to apply to, they’re accessible and available to a wide variety of students.

As a high school student, all you need to do is apply and tell us what you hate about the application process for a chance to win our $5,000 scholarship. College students only need to sign up and create a profile in order to automatically be entered to win our $5,000 scholarship. Search through our growing database of application files and find similar students to you.

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Accepted to Brown, Amherst, Duke, Emory, Santa Clara, USC, Pacific, Vanderbilt, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UCSB, UCSD, UC Davis, UC Irvine

Nature lover, STEM nerd. Will likely be late because of who I am as a person.

Accepted to Columbia, Stanford, Yale, USC, Northwestern, Georgetown, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UMich, BC, CMU

jazz guitarist, philosophy major, pre-law, coffee-lover

Accepted to NYU, BU, Ohio State

Chicago-->Cincinnati-->New York City. Dancer. Rower. Volunteer. Future Teacher.

Accepted to Tulane, UC Berkeley, Cincinnati, UPenn

Hi y'all! I'm an incoming freshmen at Tulane University in New Orleans, where I'll be studying Architecture, with a coordinate major in International Development and a minor in Urban Studies. Hope I can help with this #difficult process!

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