Conway says the key takeaway for scholarship seekers is to be smart about how you search. There are many nuances to the process and doing the proper research can help save time and energy in the long run.
As mentioned above, not all scholarships are based on merit (grades) or financial need. What’s important is you apply for scholarships that you are likely to receive, meaning those for which you meet the criteria.
Here are 5 strategies to find the perfect scholarship:
1. Reach out to your employer
Remember how many businesses offer scholarships or grants directly to employees? Reach out to your supervisor to see if there are opportunities through your employee benefits program.
2. Check locally
Some smaller scholarships offered by individuals, town organizations or small businesses are advertised locally. Check with your local chamber of commerce to see if there are any hometown scholarships.
3. Focus on the small offers
Are you applying for a high-dollar scholarship? Great, but so is everyone else. Be sure to also apply for smaller scholarships. You may find that multiple small scholarships are helpful.
4. Practice self-reflection
Many scholarships want to know who you are as a person, what your goals are, what inspires you and why you will succeed. This often comes in the form of a required essay answering a prompt. A well-crafted essay that eloquently represents you can help your essay get noticed. Conway suggests saving your applications and essays to see what you can recycle, but make sure you customize them for each application.
Keep plugging away
One could argue that the key to success is determination. In fact, determination brought you to this very moment! The same applies to scholarships. Don’t get discouraged if you receive a, "We regret to inform you," message. Rejections are part of applications, so don’t let that stop you from continuing your search.