There are scholarships devoted to every career and specialization, and teaching is just one area where interested students can find money set aside just for them. Here are a few basic things you can do to apply for teaching scholarships.
- Gain experience. Relevant experiences will look great on the activities portion of any application while giving you potential content for essays. Your involvement can also help you build contacts that will lead to great letters of recommendation. For high school students and undergraduates, some possible activities include coaching, tutoring, teaching an after-school or weekend class, and joining education-related clubs and honor societies. For those who are already teaching and pursuing an advanced degree, involvement in professional organizations, curriculum committees, and research projects can help you stand out from other applicants.
- Find applications. If you're in high school, check with your guidance counselor for local scholarship opportunities. Some community groups offer scholarships especially for future educators because they're committed to promoting education. Whether you're an incoming or current student, another potential source of teaching scholarships is your university's College of Education. Alumni, faculty groups, and the college as a whole may offer a number of scholarships for promising education students. Another source of scholarships is professional organizations. These groups, like teaching unions, honor societies, pre-professional clubs, and subject-specific organizations, offer awards in the hopes of enhancing the profession. They may offer scholarships for high school seniors, undergraduates, graduates, and teachers seeking professional development. You can also use online scholarship searches. These sites -- like FastWeb, SuperCollege.com, and the College Board's scholarship site -- can search databases of thousands of scholarships to find those available for teachers.
- Read requirements carefully. Make sure you understand all of a scholarship's requirements before applying. Teaching scholarships may be divided by subject area, age level, level of the student applying, financial need, and location. Some groups may require you to become a member before you can apply for their scholarships. Also take note of required application materials like essays and transcripts. You don't want to spend hours preparing an application, only to notice in the fine print that you're not eligible. You also don't want to miss out on a scholarship because you overlooked a simple detail.
- Gather application materials. You may want to make a list of frequently requested information like activities, awards, and honors to streamline the application process. Make sure you allow enough time to complete the application before the deadline, especially when you need to ask someone for a letter of recommendation or you need to request official documents like transcripts. It's a good idea to make a checklist for each scholarship to keep track of the required materials.
- Think about your inspirations and teaching philosophy. Most teaching scholarships require applicants to submit essays on topics related to why you want to become a teacher or how the scholarship will help improve your teaching. You need to give these questions careful thought and consideration. You may even come to some new insights into your teaching career.