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3 Scholarship Tips from the Author of "Scholarship Strategies"

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No matter how much money your family has saved for college, everyone is happy to receive scholarship money. The question on the minds of many families is "How do I win scholarship money?" and there are myriad answers to that. Scholarships can be granted by institutions, local organizations, family employers or other entities.

If you're considering a scholarship hunt -- or if you're in the midst of one -- you may want to check out a few quick tips that we gleaned during a read-through of Jean O'Toole's new book Scholarship Strategies. Read on for some insights that could help you bring in more scholarship cash this season.


1. You Aren't Limited in Your Scholarship Search

If you're applying for outside scholarships (those not affiliated with an institution), you don't have to limit yourself to just one, O'Toole writes. "There is no limit to the number of outside scholarships you can win," she notes. With thousands of scholarship opportunities available, it's up to you to find the ones that apply to you. You don't have to be an athlete, a valedictorian or a US citizen to qualify for many of them. Instead, you just have to meet the requirements, which often means writing an essay or submitting a project.

In addition, always remember that scholarships aren't available solely to those who are applying as freshmen. "Believe it or not, you can apply for outside scholarships while you are in college," she writes. "Remember: There are scholarship opportunities for every stage in life and every level of higher education, whether you are attending a technical college; pursuing an associate's degree or professional certificate; or working toward a bachelor's, master's or PhD at a state or private university."

2. These Scholarship Types Offer Statistically Higher Chances of Success

Once you start seeking scholarships that might apply to your situation, get a handle on which you're most likely to win. O'Toole says that the three types of scholarships with higher statistical chances of winning are local scholarships, those that require extensive essays or projects, or family member scholarship opportunities.

"Statistically, you have a much better chance of winning local scholarships because they attract a smaller pool of applicants," O'Toole writes. Check your library, church, local establishments and community organizations for opportunities. As for family member opportunities, ask your parents, grandparents and other close relatives whether their jobs or other connected organizations have any scholarship opportunities available.

"Your Money Mission is a monumental task," she writes. "Scholarship money is out there, but you must work to find it." She encourages students to check in with organizations such as the YMCA, Boy and Girl Scouts or Boys and Girls Club where they've been involved to see if scholarships exist there. In addition, check with your high school, use online search engines/scholarship lists and visit the websites of the schools where you're applying to seek scholarship opportunities.

3. Optimize Your Existing Essays in Scholarship Applications

You may find essay scholarships daunting to complete, but remember that not every essay has to be written exclusively for scholarship reasons. "Work smarter, not harder, and use your previous work for scholarship application submissions," O'Toole writes.

For instance, perhaps you completed a project for your DECA club about why you want to work in the marketing field. Take the writings from that and apply them to scholarships that ask about your career goals. Artistic scholarships may request selections from your existing portfolio, and engineering scholarships may want to see the design you created for the robotics club.

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