If you are a high school student, you are probably aware that college comes with a high price tag. Depending on the type of institution, your income, and student loan interest, a bachelor’s degree may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Because of the high price tag, college often seems unattainable, which is why most people opt to get student loans. Although these can help students go to college, many graduate with significant debt.
If you can’t pay for college out of pocket, applying for scholarships for high school students is the best way to enter the workforce debt-free. After all, scholarships are free money available to help students succeed as they begin their careers. Scholarship money is there and ready to be awarded to a deserving student, so why not take advantage and try to get some for yourself?
Although getting scholarships might come with some competition, applying to as many as you qualify for is always a good idea to increase your chances of graduating college financially free. Keep reading for five things you can do to increase your odds of getting scholarships for college.
College Scholarships 101
Before diving into the expert tips, let’s discuss some of most high school students’ biggest questions regarding scholarship awards. Applying to college is already an overwhelming process, so knowing what to expect when looking at scholarships can help make the process easier.
Who Is Eligible to Receive Scholarships?
Most students (if not all) are eligible to receive college scholarships. Although there are a lot of awards for academically advanced students, you don’t necessarily have to have straight A’s to be able to receive money for college. In fact, many scholarships like to award students for things that are entirely unrelated to academic success.
There are thousands upon thousands of awards out there, so if you struggled with academics during your high school years, you might still find plenty of opportunities to get money for other achievements.
Where Can Students Find Scholarships?
There are many ways for students to find scholarships. If you are already accepted into a school, an excellent way to learn about awards is to ask the financial aid office directly at the institution. You can also do some research and find out if any local scholarships are available in your area.
There are also many ways to find scholarships for high school students online. Simply looking up “scholarships for college” into your browser will give you plenty of options! As a rule of thumb, always do your research to ensure the scholarships you apply to are not a scam.
Why are Scholarships Better Than Loans?
Although loans can be beneficial to help you start your career, they often have high-interest rates. This can dramatically increase the bill for the total cost of your degree. Getting scholarships means you’ll graduate debt-free, allowing you to enter the workforce with more peace of mind.
Tips for Getting Scholarships
As you now know, there are thousands of scholarships available to high school students. However, just because there is a lot of money to go around does not mean that there is no competition to get it. Therefore, you should do some essential things to increase your odds.
Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. Of course, following these tips won’t guarantee that you’ll get all of the awards, but it will undoubtedly increase your chances:
1. Figure Out What Makes You Special
Nowadays, you can get a scholarship for pretty much anything. Sure, you’ll find thousands of scholarships that will award you for your academic merits, but there are scholarships out there that award you for stuff like your height, eye color, and even favorite food.
So, the possibilities for finding fitting scholarships for you are pretty much endless. All you have to do to find them is make a list of what makes you unique and search for scholarships for those specific items.
You can start by listing your academic achievements, volunteer experiences, and basic demographics. Just with these, you are bound to find a long list of scholarships that might want to reward you! However, you shouldn’t stop there.
Do you have any interesting hobbies? Are you into the arts? What about sports?
You can get scholarships for being a first-generation student, a minority, a member in a school club, an athlete… and the list goes on. Taking note of everything that makes you who you are will lead you to find incredible opportunities in the scholarship world, so be thorough and don’t leave anything out!
2. Stay Organized Throughout the Process
Once you have an idea of the types of scholarships that you will be looking for, it is crucial to establish a system to help you stay organized throughout the process. Making a spreadsheet with all of the scholarships you are interested in applying to will make this journey feel a lot less overwhelming.
Here are some of the factors that you should include in your spreadsheet to ensure that you get the most out of it:
- Name of the scholarship
- Link to the application
- Materials needed for application
- Deadline to apply
- Award amount
- Checkbox to indicate if you’ve applied
- Checkbox to tell if you received the award
Having a clear list of all of the scholarships you are applying to will help you have more control over the process. This will make everything feel a lot less overwhelming and help you avoid applying to the same scholarship twice or forgetting to apply on time. Because most scholarships come with a lot of competition, failing to submit materials properly or not staying on top of deadlines will guarantee that you won’t get the award.
The list will also help you prioritize applications based on deadline and reward amount. However, don’t dismiss smaller scholarships- although in comparison, a $100 reward is not much, it can help you buy textbooks or pay a semester fee! Having a clear list of your scholarships will let you get a better idea of the total amount of money you’ve been awarded, making it easier for you to plan.
3. Set a Goal
Once you have a list of all the scholarships you are planning to apply for, create a schedule and set a goal for your application process. Remember that you will likely also be dealing with college applications, so organizing your time will be essential to avoid missing out on great scholarships for Junior college or university.
Because at this point, you’ll have a list that shows you clear deadlines, it’ll be easy for you to break it down into bite-sized sections and apply for all of the awards little by little. The key to ensuring that you don’t miss out on any opportunities is to set a goal.
Commit to applying to x amount of scholarships every day. This includes writing essays and gathering all other relevant materials. Although this process can take a lot of effort, there are many benefits to applying to several scholarships, so don’t get discouraged- it’ll be worth it when you start getting the awards.
4. Start Applying ASAP
Another key to increasing your odds of getting a lot of scholarship money for college is starting the application process as early as possible. Scholarships of all kinds emerge year-round, so starting the process early will give you a lot more opportunities.
You can always add more scholarship opportunities to your list, but you can’t bring back an award if you miss the deadline. So, avoid the regret of not finding certain scholarships on time by starting your search as soon as possible.
Remember that there could be a lot of competition for certain awards, and although getting the application in early is likely not a factor that will help you win, it can help you avoid disasters. Think about it- the more time you have to write an essay or submit materials, the more time you will have to ensure that the application is perfect.
Furthermore, applying ASAP will also help you stick to your schedule and will help you avoid getting stressed about a fast-approaching deadline.
5. Write Great Essays
Although staying organized throughout the process is essential, the most critical factor in increasing your chances of getting college scholarships is the application itself. The materials you need to submit with your application will depend from scholarship to scholarship. However, the main ingredient to a successful scholarship application is almost always an essay.
Spending time ensuring that your essays are well written and engaging is key to increasing your odds of winning an award. Of course, spelling and grammar are essential factors to consider, so proofreading and editing are crucial. However, it would be best if you also considered these tips to ensure your essay sticks out from the competition:
Stick to the Subject
When a scholarship requires an essay, it will most likely come with a prompt. This is because the reward providers want you to answer a particular question. If that is the case, why change it?
The prompt is there for a reason, so make sure to stick to the subject and answer what they ask you. Of course, you can do this in very creative ways- you don’t necessarily have to stick to a traditional essay format. Just make sure it is professional and that what you are saying is relevant.
Be a Storyteller
The people reviewing your application don’t want to read a recap of your transcripts or resume. For your essay to stick out from the rest, you should spend some time ensuring that your essay tells a story. Answer the prompt, but do it compellingly.
Make whoever is reviewing your application remember you!
You’ve Applied to Scholarships- Now What?
Once you are done applying to all of the scholarship opportunities, you can pat yourself on the back for doing something great for your future. Applying to scholarships takes a lot of time and hard work, so be proud of yourself for even doing it.
If you have social media, make sure to clean up your accounts and maintain a reputable appearance online. Scholarship committees might check in to vet you and reject your application if they see something they don’t like.
Whenever your applications are completed and sent, there are very few things you can do to increase your odds. However, because of how competitive scholarships can be, everything helps.
If you make it past the application stage, some scholarships might require an interview. If you know this is the case for one of the awards you applied for, make sure to prepare for the interview to increase your odds.
Lastly, keep an eye out for award updates through your email account, and don’t forget to check on your spam folder. Even if you get a rejection, make sure to keep updating your handy scholarship spreadsheet so that you know what you are working with at the end of the process.
Get Scholarships for High School Students
As you now know, there are many ways for you to increase your odds of getting all kinds of scholarships for high school students. Remember to start the process early, make an organized list of your scholarships, set a goal, and write killer essays.
Getting scholarship money is a fantastic way to graduate college debt-free and start your career financially free. So, what are you waiting for?
If you want to start applying for scholarships right now, you’ve come to the right place. Start your scholarship journey by checking out our scholarship directory today!
Source: HonorSociety.org Member Articles
5 Expert Tips to Help You Apply for Scholarships for High School Students