College is expensive and many people cannot pay for it all out of pocket, making scholarships vital to affording college.
Tiffany Williams, Mentor Program Director at Palmer Scholars, helps dozens of students on their track to college, including applying for scholarships.
Williams explains that scholarships should be looked for year round and can be utilized prior to as well as throughout college.
Williams says that a lot of scholarships are catered towards specific types of people such as undocumented students, students of a certain ethnicity or students following a certain educational track.
Williams first piece of advice when looking for scholarships is to get organized. She recommends making a spreadsheet so that every time students find a scholarship they may be eligible for, they can write down the name, website link, deadlines and requirements. Some of the best websites to help find scholarships include TheWashBoard.org, FastWeb.com, Niche.com and Unigo.com.
When a student does find a scholarship, the first thing they should do is read through the eligibility requirements. According to Williams, the worst thing someone can do is waste time applying for a scholarship they’re not eligible for.
Students also need to identify at least two teachers or professors as well as a community member who know them well enough to write general letters of recommendation for them. They will want to have performed well and demonstrated the qualities of a good student in the classes of the teachers chosen.
Williams says that a minimum of three weeks should be given to write a letter of recommendation.
Williams also advises writing essay prompts in a separate Word or Google document, just in case something goes wrong. Many scholarships ask similar questions and students may only have to tweak their personal essays each time they apply. Saving each version of the essay can save students time if they happen to run into a question that is similar to another.
Before ever submitting an application, get as many people as possible to read it over and give feedback to make sure there’s no errors and that the writing is clear and concise, as well as adequately answers the prompt given. Considering some of these tips and tricks while applying for scholarships may make it easier to navigate the system as well as increase the chances of receiving the scholarship.
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