A few weeks ago I was a speaker and participant at the National Scholarship Providers Conference in New Orleans. I met scholarship judges, administrators and donors, guidance counselors, scholarship database company reps, and precollege advisors. I’m still tired (yet inspired) from that week.
Over the next few weeks I’ll share what I learned (it’s too much for one post) but here’s a few quick pieces of scholarship advice:
(1) as scholarship providers allow online applications, the number of applications goes up (more competition) but the quality of applications, overall, seems to go down (less competition?) Think about that when you apply online. I’m guessing if you proofread one extra time and take greater care in answering the questions you will stand out.
(2) in scholarships that are based on hardships or challenges, your survival of the hardship is not the primary criteria on which you are judged it’s how you overcame the hardship and went on to thrive afterwards that is more compelling to a judge (at least the ones I talked to).
Right on the heels of meeting scholarship providers I was also a speaker at College Explosion, a half-day event that was held at Marquette University. About 500 students attended and my session had 100 people. Even though I was the speaker, I learned a lot from the audience:
(1) ask questions and press for answers until it makes sense to you. If no one else in your family went to college, a lot of the terminology that people use could be difficult for you to comprehend. It’s OKAY to ask people to explain, especially when a scholarship (f r e e money) is involved.
(2) it’s okay to share your private pain. Some students approached me afterward with very personal issues about cancer, disabilities, etc. wondering if there are scholarships available related to those issues. The answer is YES! You can find them on national and local search engines or through word-of-mouth in your community.