The most common view of scholarships is that they go to those who perform well academically. Let me share a couple of thoughts on this idea. I have worked with several students who have done very wellin school. Perfect G.P.A.s, valedictorians, and honor students who have received few and sometimes no scholarships at all. On the other hand, there are those who have been able to win significant academic scholarship awards with less than perfect credentials. What’s the difference? In most cases, I find that those that win are those who do not just apply to three or four scholarships, but will actually apply to 20-40 different awards. For those who have excelled in your grades, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because you have proven yourself that ample scholarships will be awarded to you without the same level of work and commitment you showed in achieving those grades.
One of the more prevalent and grade agnostic areas of scholarship awards is in the service arena. Keep track of all the service you do and you will find great paths to additional scholarship awards. The service you render can take several forms: helping with local charities or nonprofits (i.e. American Cancer Society, animal shelters, church service, etc.); participating in groups like Scouts; or even service to your fellow students in various ways. The more service you can track and perform the better chances for winning in this broad category.
Leadership scholarships are another area that students can qualify for. Don’t think that you have to be the student body president win one either. Keep track of the various groups and clubs that you participate in and strive for a leadership position within those. The positions can be formal leadership positions (President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary), or informal ones (leading an initiative within the organization –‘developed and managed the kindergarten refresh project with 14 people putting in a total of 115 hours of service…’).
If you are involved in sports, music, fine arts, or any other extracurricular activities, there are scholarships and awards in each of these areas as well. These tend to be much more competitive as a general rule, but that should not deter you from applying to all that you might qualify for.
This is my favorite category, so we saved the best for last. Why is this one my favorite? Well, because it is the stuff that nobody thinks of. Let’s start with hobbies. There are scholarships for skateboarding, social networking, surfing, hiking, and for just about every hobby that you can think of. Spend a lot of passionate time on a particular area – there is likely a scholarship for that area, and you should apply!
Next, under unconventional there are what I like to call the everyday scholarships. For instance, did you know that your bank or credit union likely offers a scholarship? Your electric or gas company? Yes, most do. Groups your parents are involved in like the Rotary, Lions, or Kiwanis clubs – they have scholarships too!
Lastly, there are opportunities to create scholarships and awards from local benefactors. This is one way to ensure there is little or no competition. Have you notices the companies that are consistently sponsoring your school games or school newspaper? Write up a proposal of not only why you deserve, but how they will gain some press for the scholarship or award.
All in all, with all the scholarships that are out there in the world – if you are diligent in your applications and creative in looking for opportunities, you can find literally thousands of dollars in awards to help further your education. Wondering how to optimize your chances? Check out the free videos that are available here. Or if you like, try the guaranteed Full Ride Scholarship Program for a simple and complete system to ensure you are able to eliminate large chucks of you college costs!
Dr. John W. Mitchell
President, Scholarship Keys