The first time I ever had to embark on a scholarship hunt, I was scared to death. It was a menacing journey into the unknown and I was equipped with only a 2.45 GPA and a URL that promised to find me scholarships that matched my personal profile. I was greatly unqualified as well as crippled by a fear of the hunt itself, which led me in the direction of sweepstakes where I blindly put in my name and crossed my fingers.
When I started attending Pierce College, I managed to raise my GPA to a 3.7. Being accepted into American Honors and working with my magnificent advisor gave me the confidence that I needed to start looking into scholarships again. I have the ability to turn my dream of transferring to a four-year into a reality.
I am here to say that the search for scholarships is not nearly as scary as it seems.
Here are a few tips that I have gathered from my recent search that I hope will help you on your scholarship search. Overall, make sure that you start your search early so that you have plenty of time to take breaks, take it slow, and don’t stress yourself out.
Use multiple sources.
Just like when you’re writing an essay, you’re going to want to do as much research as you can. There are a practically limitless wealth of websites devoted to finding your perfect scholarship matches, and from what I’ve seen, all of them have different resources to offer. There are three big ones that I looked at: Chegg.com, Scholarships.com, and FastWeb.com.
- Chegg.com is a great resource, not just for this, but for renting textbooks and college matches as well — they’re devoted to student needs and the site itself is easily accessible. They dig down deep and find the obscure, small-business-funded scholarships that aren’t advertised on other sites. I also really like how Chegg pinpoints what you qualify for and tells you why they’ve matched you to specific scholarships.
- Scholarships.com matches with a lot more big name sponsors such as the actual state univiersities like The University of Washington, pride foundations like The Point Foundation, and memorial foundations like The Anne Frank Center. The site also sends you handy little emails whenever a new match appears for you. You can save them all to a list and mark off the ones you aren’t as interested in.
- FastWeb.com doesn’t quite match to your profile as specfically as the other two do. For example, it asks how far along you are in college, but may still suggest scholarships intended for high school students. But it does have a cool status tool that you can set for every scholarship, eliminating ones that you aren’t eligible for and the ones you don’t want to apply for. The tool then helps you organize the remaining list of scholarships by “might apply for,” “will apply for,” and “have applied for.” It’s a pretty interesting organization system.
Make a list.
I, so far, have a list of about 66 scholarships that I am interested in. I track these in a nice little Google spreadsheet. They’re all organized by due date, with the criteria and award amount listed under them. Having the information all together really makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something, and making progress. This also helps make your application process easier, organizing what you have done and what you need to.
Go easy on yourself.
This one is definitely easier said than done. The search for scholarships is an emotionally taxing venture that can really shatter confidence and cause anxiety. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s okay to take a break. I often get headaches when I work on tasks such as this and would take a break to eat or go on a walk outside to help myself calm down and reflect on how much I’ve accomplished. Looking for scholarships is very important and I know it can be terrifying, but you can do this.
Don’t give up.
If you feel like there is nothing out there that specifically applies to you, then you might not be looking in the right places. Try more sites and do not lose hope. And if you lose confidence that you’ll win any of the scholarships that you’ve applied for, remember: the more you apply to, the more chances you have to win. You have the full capacity to succeed. Take a deep breath, there is a scholarship out there for you.
So far, in my life, I have only received two scholarships and both were from American Honors. I automatically qualified for one by applying early, but I had to go out and apply for the other. Honestly, I didn’t think I would get it. It’s extremely empowering to get that first phone call that tells you that you’ve won — I hope that everyone who embarks on this search is rewarded with at least one of those phone calls.