It’s College Conversation time! Jessica Fowle, an independent college counselor in Kalamazoo, is back with more tips for your college journey. If you missed her introduction, be sure to read it, get to know her and figure out what college counseling is all about.
Happy summer, Becky Anderson Photography fans!
I hope your break is off to a good start! Summer is a great time for relaxing and catching up with friends. It’s also a great time to get a head start on searching and applying for scholarships. I know, I know, that probably was not at the top of your summer bucket list, but trust me, it’s a good idea to add it ASAP. Where to start? Bust out the laptop, and grab a cup of coffee! Summer Scholarship Tips are coming your way!
1. Start a spreadsheet
Once you get going looking for scholarships you will quickly realize that they all have slightly different deadlines and requirements. It’s a good idea to create a spreadsheet of the ones that you qualify for. Don’t be too picky at first; just stick anything on there that looks vaguely interesting. You can refine the list later! You may want to create the spreadsheet in a Google Doc, and enlist your parents (or your independent college counselor!) to help with the search. Here is some info you will want to make sure to capture:
- Scholarship Name
- Link to website/application
- Application deadline
- Award amount
- Brief description of required materials
- Notes to yourself about qualifications, other comments to help you remember why you added it to the list
2. Research, Research, Research
Thanks to the wonderful world of the internet, there is a ton of information at your fingertips about available scholarships that you can find while sitting on the couch in your pjs! Here are some great places to start looking:
- Your HS Counseling Office website:
This is a great place to find local scholarships, and/or scholarships that previous students from your school have received.
- The HS Counseling Office websites of other schools in your area:
There may be some scholarships that you qualify for that for one reason or another didn’t make it onto your own high school’s website.
- Local Foundations and Organizations
Our very own Kalamazoo Community Foundation has access to education as one of its core missions, and offers a number of scholarships. Rotary International, Kiwanis, and other local nonprofit organizations are great resources as well.
- Local Employers, Parents’ Employers
There are a lot of companies that love to support local students. Especially focus on companies that are based in your hometown or home state. It is also a good idea to check with your parents’ employers to see if they offer any scholarships to children of employees. Another good location to check is your family’s bank or credit union.
- Scholarship Search Engines
These sites compile lists of national scholarships. They require you to fill out a personalized profile and come up with scholarships across the country for which you may be qualified. Here are some sites to start with:
3. Start writing!
The price of a college scholarship? Well, it’s almost always a well-written essay explaining why you are qualified to receive money for your education.
- Make sure you carefully read the essay prompts. The prompts are often built around common themes, so you may be able to write 1-3 essays that you can tweak a bit to fit multiple scholarship applications.
- Pay attention to word count! Make sure that your essay isn’t too short or too long.
- Research the organization funding the scholarship. This may give you some insight on what to highlight about yourself that makes you a particularly good match for the scholarship.
- Proofread! Make sure to read through it yourself, and also enlist a parent, teacher, counselor, or friend to give you their insight.
Moral of the story?
There is a lot of opportunity for scholarship money out there—even those small amount scholarships add up nicely. It will take time, research, and writing work, but there is a lot of money out there if you are willing to do all three!
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