Go for the Gold in the Scholarship Olympics
Let the games begin! Looking for scholarships can seem like a marathon. The competition is fierce, but hard work can pay off in scholarship gold. With the right knowledge and some persistence, students can put themselves ahead of the game and bring home the prize in the form of college money.
Finding college scholarships is not as hard as you may think. Begin looking in your own community. Local businesses and organizations often have contests for area students. These programs usually have small competition and can be worth a few thousand dollars each year.
Your second most important resource is the internet. With sites such as www.fastweb.com and www.collegeNET.com, scholarships can be found that fit your specific interests and background. Many are offered at the beginning of the school year and have a deadline. Make sure you only apply for the scholarships that you qualify for.
Many scholarship contests require an essay. Make sure to keep the topic positive and upbeat. Put yourself in the place of the judges and ask yourself how they might feel after reading your paper. Read some previous winning essays to help find clues to the judges’ preferences. Be as specific as possible when asked about your accomplishments. Somewhere in your essay, interject how you are a world-changer and a future leader who will represent the contest well if chosen as the winner.
Be sure to convey who you are, where you are going, and what you have to offer them (i.e., the contest giver, the college). Make a good first impression with a concise and memorable description of yourself. The judges may never meet you, so it will be your writing that will win them over. Do not be afraid to brag a little on yourself, but don’t go overboard.
You should also enclose the following items in your scholarship letter: a list of your volunteer work, extracurricular activities, leadership positions, and awards received. Add several letters of recommendation from teachers and employers. Attach a cheerful picture of yourself so the judges can connect your face with your application.
Winning scholarships can be within your reach. Finding little-known contests and creating a stand-out application can help you triumph in your college financial goals. Victory can be yours, so good luck and go for the gold!
Jean Burk is a homeschooling mother and author of College Prep Genius: The No Brainer Way to SAT Success! She has been the featured SAT expert for FOX, CBS, NBC, and The Homeschool Channel. Both her children received full-ride scholarship offers because of their SAT and PSAT scores. Her revolutionary program is taught in schools and homeschool co-ops across the country and helps thousands of students raise their SAT scores as much as 600 points.
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