I wish I’d known when preparing for college that getting scholarship money could be almost as easy as finding a movie on Friday night. Instead, I slogged through five years of full-time school and part-time work, giving short shrift to my social life and being perpetually exhausted. With a little help in the form of college scholarship money, I might have had a slightly more enjoyable experience.
How To Qualify
Considering that you are a unique individual with your own set of strengths and weaknesses, with 17 or more years of life behind you, finding scholarships you qualify for is not really that hard. Since college scholarships are offered on the basis of everything from race to religion, athletics to anthropology, and family relationships to farming, there’s literally a college scholarship with your name on it. But no one will come knocking on your door to find you. The key to getting scholarship money is researching the scholarships and then completing applications for any you remotely qualify for. If you don’t apply, there’s a chance the funds will stay in an account, untapped. So you might as well try!
Start Close To Home
Your search for college scholarship money begins at home, literally. Your mom or dad’s employer, or the service or professional organization they attend may offer scholarships to the children of employees. Those are easy! Check out any businesses or charity organization where you’ve worked, to see if they offer college scholarships to members of their work “family.” And check with your state to find what scholarships they offer to students with specific talents, interests or experience, or financial need. Start by calling your governor’s office, and they may be able to point you to money sitting right under your nose!
The Corporate Route
Next is contacting businesses in your community, many of which have established scholarship programs as a way to give back to their employees and communities. Your city or state has an investment in making sure it has strong, capable, educated residents to form a pool of potential employees and happy customers.
WalMart, ExxonMobil, AT&T and Coke are some of the bigger titans that give away scholarship money. But companies up and down the business landscape are designating more and more dollars to helping students pay for college, with successful results. They offer a range of options for college students, focusing on everything from internship experience to financial need, diversity to family ties.
For starters, look up these companies: Adobe, Apple, Best Buy, Coke, Ford, General Motors, Intel, JP Morgan Chase, KFC, Kodak, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Mercedes Benz, Northrop Grumman, Pepsi, Pfizer, Time Warner, Target, Toyota and Xerox. Another great option is banks, as they give college scholarship money to thousands of students each year, based on diverse qualifications. Start your search on their websites, or go to the College Scholarship website for more ideas.
Some corporate college scholarships will come with strings attached. You might offer to do a limited summer internship, or give a talk to the company’s employees or your college peers at a later date. Remember that any amount at all-no matter how small-is a welcome addition to your college savings account!
Are you African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, female, bi-racial, multi-racial, multicultural, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered? If you answered yes to any of these, you are a minority. These days, almost everyone’s a minority, which means you can qualify for designated college scholarships. Minority scholarships are available through every awarding entity: states, the federal government, corporations, universities and charitable organizations. Even if you have just one-quarter minority blood, you may be considered.
Here are some college scholarship categories you may fit into.
If you’re an accomplished athlete, someone somewhere wants to award you with a scholarship for college. Especially if you’re attending a smaller college or university. If you’re a great student-and a great athlete, you’ll be rewarded doubly. To find out which athletic college scholarships are available, check with national athletic organizations that cover specific collegiate levels of play like NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA. Do you play hockey? Are you an archery bulls eye? What about rodeo? There are even scholarships for these and other less popular shorts. For a look at the scholarships offered to athletes at all levels, check out the master list of sports scholarships for college provided by CollegeScholarships.org.
Depending on your field of study, you should be able to snag a national and/or local college scholarships designed for students just like you. Don’t assume they’re for someone smarter, with better grades, or further along in the discipline. You might as well apply, and claim your due. Whether you’re in the arts and humanities, engineering or studying to be in the clergy, there are college scholarships designed for your type.
If you have an unusual talent or skill, you may want to do a search like “how to get scholarships for college if you’re a marbles champion,” or “find scholarships for skateboarders.” Really!
Stage of Study
Whether you’re an undergraduate college student or you’re in graduate-level studies, there are scholarships to fit your need. You’ll find college scholarships for students studying abroad, graduate research fellows, college scholarships for the study of law, business, engineering and history, among many fields. Ph.D. candidates can get help paying for college costs with a host of scholarships aimed directly at their field of study.
To The Point
I hope you’re getting the point here: once you learn how to find scholarships, the sky’s the limit. Here are a few more tags that might make you the perfect candidate for a college scholarship: disabled, Girl Scout, sorority sister, political animal, left-handed, firefighter, homeschooler, vegan and twin! This list could go on and on.
If you’re a high school student, it’s never too early to start building your “college nest egg.” You still have time to join service clubs, work part-time, and gain experience that may be relevant to certain scholarship funds, and help you to become better qualified. Wherever you are in your high school or college career, take time now to sit down and plot out a plan to solicit some help from willing entities who can help to finance your college education.