Most students will look at a few websites or log into a scholarship search site, perhaps even tack on a trip to the counselor’s office to grab “the list of scholarships” but that’s it. The problem with that approach is that all of your competition is doing the exact same thing.
Yes, start on the Internet but to craft a better list of matching scholarships, you should do extensive keywords searches in multiple categories. For instance, yesterday I found eight scholarships awarded by restaurants. (see my post at the blog www.morethanatestscore.com) You could also search department stores, sports teams, etc. Think of any major retail segment and chances are they award scholarships. Think beyond the Internet, though.
Next, really look at printed resources. Why? Because your competition isn’t! Have you dug up last year’s graduation bulletin? Sometimes they list which students won which scholarships. Have you read the local newspaper? That’s where small civic groups will make their application announcements and showcase picutres from their fundraisers. Those fundraisers are often for scholarship programs! The small local scholarships aren’t likely to appear on the evening news and they aren’t on MySpace, Facebook or Twitter. Check newspapers, graduation bulletins, old school newsletters, community boards at the library or grocery store, etc. Paper is your scholarship friend.
Don’t stop there, we’re just getting started! Did you ever “hear about” that scholarship for grocery store workers? Caddies? Duck calling? Word-of-mouth can be a very powerful tool in opening up opportunities that are specific to your personal profile and experiences. Most parents like to brag about their kids so this would be a good time to let folks know that you need money for college. In my former job I helped research more than 700 local scholarships and today, even though I thought we uncovered them all, I still hear about new ones. The only problem with word-of-mouth is consistency and quality of information. Did you hear about that scholarship for the children of left-handed authors with brown eyes who are scholarship experts? For real. Sara’s mom’s trainer told her about it… With word-of-mouth always find the original source!
Yes, I gave you permission to brag but as I mention in my book, do so with a dose of humility – especially if you are going to engage in blatant self-promotion. Self-promotion means that you are actively providing your teachers, mentors, coaches, neighbors, employers, family members, friends, and faith leaders with your scholarship resume so they can be aware of your scholarship-worthiness. You might think that everyone knows how fabulous you are but maybe they don’t. Or maybe they don’t have specifics. If they know a little bit more about you, they are more likely to help you or think of you if they are connected to scholarship sources or information.
Searching for scholarships can be time consuming but contrast that with how long you might be paying off student loans and those hours are a bargain! More later. Happy searching,
The Scholarship Lady
P.S. Get all my tips here: Scholarships 101: The Real-World Guide to Getting Cash for College