The process of searching for scholarships can be daunting. Time consuming. Maybe even leaving you with the wonder if you’ll EVER get any free money to pay for college. I can tell you  by personal experience and hearing from so many people, that enough effort the outcome can result in the thousands of dollars to pay for your tuition or other college expenses.

It’s not hard work. It’s just laborious, time-consuming and somewhat tedious (depending on you). This is just the beginning guys, believe me. You will ave to do this kind of stuff (form filling, following up with phone calls, mailing and emailing, etc.) in more college tasks and future scholarships.

In fact if you don’t know your social security number now, you will soon memorize it. Maybe license number too! You will be filling out enough forms in your lifetime, that this is just the start. I hate to tell ya.

But, when it comes to scholarships, here are some quick things I’d like you to be aware of when researching and applying for scholarships.

These are my main mantra points:

1. Look here, look there, look everywhere! Scholarships are all over the place and research is one of the most important parts

2. Now comes the task of applying that research to figuring out what you are qualified for. Applying for the right scholarship is the other most important part

3. Being detailed and accurate in all of the above is the other, other most important

4. It takes some work…not hard work…just enough work to dedicate a lengthy period of time to research and apply

5. The more you apply for, the more chances you have to get more free money

6. Billions of dollars are available in scholarships and just a small fraction is ever awarded. Mainly because not enough people don’t apply

7. A lot of scholarship winnings are used for purposes OTHER than tuition



  • As long as you are eligible, you can apply (most eligibility requirements are listed)

    -Go for all of them!

    -If your breathing, your eligible for scholarships. Grades are not the ONLY thing they look at anymore

    -Check out the weird ones too

  • Start the search now and make sure it is YOU that does this!

    -Do NOT rely on others

  • Research all applicable scholarships through the following ways:

    -Local businesses         

    -Your own job (Burger King gives away thousands of dollars every year to its employees

    -The college you plan to attend

    -Classes, careers centers or organizations with which your involved

    -Check your Guidance Office (ask Secretary or Counselor) where the scholarship applications are. If you know what degree your getting, this makes it easier

    -Online resources available (scholarship websites) that I gathered together through my own personal research. Check it out!

    -Libraries usually have files or special areas with available scholarships

    -Check with mom and dad and their jobs

    -Community organizations, churches, other extracurricular involvement you might have

  • Prepare any portfolio (if required)

    -Particularly if you are going into a more creative career, chances are scholarship committees will require some proof of work done

  • Review the scholarships’ requirements

    -Most scholarships won’t let you continue until you are aware of the requirements

    -If your not eligible, don’t apply. There are plenty more for you to apply

  • Set up interviews (if required by scholarship committee)

  • Organize all found scholarships by deadline dates

    -Remember there are 2 forms of deadlines: “postmark date” (get it to post office or in mailbox by this date) and “mail-by date” (the date the application should get to specified address).

  • Request letters of recommendations

    -Many sponsors will require list or letters of recommendation

    -Ask those in your life with whom you’ve had the most, or affective exposure: teachers, counselors, mentors, coaches, bosses, Pastors, community people, advisors or teachers or adults in charge of any committees or organizations you are involved in

    -Make sure you give your references adequate time to prepare

    -The letters should consist of the connection between you and the person writing the letter; information about your character and maybe work ethic; and a statement of support that says you deserve  the scholarship or award

    -Give them 4-5 days to write the letter

    -Then…make sure you follow-up with these individuals. You take the lead to get the letters from them. Don’t expect them to just take care of it and get it to you

    -Don’t burn your bridges- make and keep your contacts. You’ll need them. Know your allies, references always help

  • Prepare an essay

    -The hardest part about this is you opening up. But, you need to open up more at this point about your personal life, depending on what is asked of you.

    -Most applications ask for some sort of essay, so why not write a 250 word essay now, and have it for all scholarship applications? That way you have a enough information to incorporate in your application whenever required.

    -Most scholarship applications ask for something written about “why you deserve this award.” If you prepare an essay now on that topic, you will cut out a lot of work.

    -Watch for the “OOPSIES” (those dumb mistakes we all miss)

    -Spellcheck, then proofread, then spellcheck some more

    -Give it to someone else to proof

    -Put it down for couple days, then go back to it


  • Can YOU read your own handwriting?

  • Review and edit all pieces of the application

    -Watch for the “OOPSIES” here too…(dumb mistakes…we all do them)

    -Be honest about everything and answer every question

    -Spellcheck, then proofread, then spellcheck some more

    -Give it to someone else to proof

  • Make copies of all pieces of application

    –Do you know where your nearest Kinko’s or post office is?

  • Submit application in requested form (electronic, mail etc)

  • Following up on submitted application

    -Check with sponsor to verify they received your application and all documents

  • Move on to next chronological application


Brag about yourself, even if it was running the sound for church choir, or keeper of the left-handed shovel…it doesn’t matter. Show that you were involved with something other than TV, video games and food.

Highlight positive aspects about yourself and your experiences, even if it was something from Girl Scouts 8 years ago.




  • Watch for dates especially if it says “postmark” or “mail by.”

     -Postmark means it must be stamped or sent out by that date

     -Mail-by date means to have it at the address by that date

  • Email and social networking are great ways to check you out

     -and they might!

     -Do you have a MySpace and/or Facebook account with some “interesting” photos, phrases, updates, etc? Because chances are if they look and they see that, it might not way too well in your favor. Clean it up a little. 🙂

     -Are you getting a Nursing degree with an email like ditsyblonde101@aol.com?? MMMppphhh, might wanna change it. I don’t think scholarship committees, or chairpersons are willing to refer to you as the USchickmagnet@yahoo.com for rewarding thousands of their dollars.

  •  Turn in the right stuff at the right time

  • Request or print any special application forms

  • Make copies of everything, and keep files of each scholarship

  -Organization is important at this point

Following these steps, and researching the scholarships available here is the best way for you to get the money you deserve.

Please post any other ideas, thoughts or comments to this. Why not subscribe to my blog and get more information on the latest and greatest in careers, college and cash!

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My success is your success,


Keith Lipke is a careers and college recruiter, coach, mentor and blogger at The Hope Chest. His passion is to educate, inspire, and give hope to young people who need it upon their search for the right career and college.