The process of applying for scholarships can be challenging, but it really isn’t. It takes time, research, patience and diligence, but the end result of these can really help you financially to pay for school. It’s possible and it happens all the time. I hope it makes you feel better to know that there are scholarships out there for everyone. I am guessing there is billions of dollars available for scholarship awards, but many times a lot of money simply go unawarded…because nobody applies for them. This is the first test for you to realize that the amount of work you put into something will indeed prove it the amount you get out of it.

With enough research, diligence and keeping on top of filling out applications, you will indeed reap the rewards, financially. I’ve read and heard stories of young people sitting down one weekend and just filling out application after application non-stop and they really got some great scholarship money. This is the attitude you should take. I’ve provided you with some tips on how to prepare BEFORE filling out applications. Then some tips on what to do DURING the application process, and then what you should do AFTER to ensure your hard work pays off.

It’s not hard work, but requires you to be detailed. It gives you great training for what is expected of you in college.

Here are some main things to keep in mind:

1. Look here, look there, look everywhere! Scholarships are all over the place and research is one of the most important parts…but be sure to ONLY apply for those that you are actually eligible for

2. Be detailed, accurate and neat

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

4. The more you apply for, the more chances you have for free money

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

6. A lot of scholarship winnings can be used for purposes OTHER than tuition

 7. Don’t ever pay to apply for a scholarship

8. Look everywhere for scholarships…you might be surprised

BEFORE you begin:

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

-There is a scholarship for everyone

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

-Do NOT rely on others, do the work yourself

Research all applicable scholarships through the following ways:

-Local businesses

-Check with your own job (Burger King gives away thousands of dollars every year to its employees)

-Check with the college you plan to attend and ask for a list of scholarships and grants available

-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 you’re getting, this makes it easier

-Online resources available (scholarship websites) that I gathered together through my own personal research. Look for them right here!

-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 a portfolio of your past work (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 you’re 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 types 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 at least 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 and read it again. Chances are you will find mistakes you never even thought of

DURING the application process:

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 application based on due date

NOTE: 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.

AFTER you applied:


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

-Postmark means it must be stamped and in the box 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 MMMppphhh, might wanna change it. I don’t think scholarship committees, or chairpersons are willing to refer to you as the 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!


Your Success is My Success,

Keith Lipke

I’m a careers and college recruiter, coach, public speaker and leader at The Career Closet. His passion is to educate, inspire, and give hope to young people who need it upon their search for the right career and college

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