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How Do I Begin My Scholarship Search?

Where do I start? Our department is asked this regularly by students and it’s a great question. The scholarship process can be daunting and knowing where to search can be half the battle. Here’s where we recommend that you begin.

Don’t get on the internet to start searching randomly for scholarships through your favorite search site. This is only going to lead to an overwhelming amount of information and you’ll get frustrated because you aren’t finding anything. Instead, create a personal inventory to help you in personalizing your search. We’ve found that students find more success when they do this; although, remember that scholarships are never guaranteed.

We always recommend that students personalize their scholarship search by focusing first on their unique backgrounds. Creating a personal inventory helps you to identify your skills, goals, experiences, interests, etc. As you do, you’ll identify specific areas in your life that might help you find a scholarship. Keep in mind that not everything will lead to a potential scholarship; your personal inventory is just to help you get started by identifying areas to look.

Okay, here’s how to create a personal inventory. Open up a new document or spreadsheet on your computer. Or, just grab a piece of paper. Now, jot down everything you can think of about yourself. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Ethnicity – From where did your ancestors come? Be specific and include all (e.g., Japanese, Italian, African-American, etc.).
  • Career goals – What is your current and future career path? List both if they differ.
  • Military affiliation – Are you associated with the military? This includes yourself, spouse, parent or grandparent.
  • Medical and/or physical conditions – Have you been diagnosed with any type of illness or disability? Include both current and past information. You can even include this if it’s something that has affected an immediate family member (e.g., spouse, child or parent).
  • Memberships – Are you a member of any organizations or professional associations? List all.
  • Hobbies – What do you like to do in your spare time?

For additional ideas, check out our Scholarship Path Document page.

This list is only to get you thinking about areas from your background that could lead to a scholarship opportunity. Feel free to add things we didn’t include. We also recommend that you update your list, as needed. As you’re searching for scholarships, you might come upon one that reminds you of something else you can add. As we mentioned previously, not everything on your list will help you find a scholarship. This is just to help you personalize your search.

Now that you have your personal inventory, it’s time to begin searching. Use your inventory to look for providers that might offer scholarships to individuals with similar backgrounds, interests, goals, etc. We’ll cover additional ways to use your personal inventory over the next few months.

If you have questions, contact your advisor or the scholarship department at scholarships@phoenix.edu.

Center for Scholarship Excellence

University of Phoenix