Winning a scholarship (or more than one) for college can put you ahead financially as you begin your adult life. When you begin your search, you may find that you qualify for more than you had imagined. They key is being prepared to exploit your strengths -- to toot your own horn, so to speak -- so that you can win enough money to pay for college.
- Start by writing down a list of everything you've done while in high school. Include any extracurricular activities as well as community activities, such as church choir member or volunteer at the soup kitchen. Also include any academic awards you have won.
- Now consider anything about you that may make you eligible for more scholarship money. For example, your race or ethnicity may come into play. If one of your parents is a veteran, there are other options available. Even your religious affiliation could open the door to more scholarship money for you. Don't leave anything out.
- Once you have compiled this list, contact five to six people who know you well but are not relatives. These people can be teachers, neighbors, or employers who have known you and will write a good letter of recommendation for you. Ask these people for generic letters of recommendation and then make copies of the letters.
- Go to your guidance counselor's office as early as possible. Ask about any scholarships that he or she knows about. Your school gets information daily about scholarship opportunities. Talk with him or her about your background and ask to be informed of any opportunities that come in for which you may qualify.
- Get online. Do a search for scholarship opportunities. You will find a number of websites that advertise their own scholarships as well as portal sites that permit you to search a large database of scholarships at once. Make it a point to spend at least 30 minutes everyday on looking for scholarships.
- Check with local companies. Many small businesses have one-time scholarships for students. These may not be worth much individually, but everything adds up.
- Ask your university when you get accepted about opportunities that they have available. You may be able to compete at your university against other incoming students.
- Begin applying as soon as you get the scholarship information. Most of the opportunities will require you to write essays, so you need to allot time each weekend for this activity.