Researching scholarships is an art. It requires knowing your strengths and ultimately, what works best for you. With that said, pinpointing your strengths will help you to know which scholarships have the most potential.
If you happen to be a person who enjoys writing, there are plenty of opportunities for you to express yourself. Most scholarships are based on applications and submitting information, like your GPA and ACT/SAT scores. However, an essay contest truly allows scholarship providers to learn more about your personality and your ability to express personal beliefs.
As you delve into writing, keep these tips in mind:
- Know Your Competition. Scholarships that require you to write an essay based on your response to a novel or a particular situation can be time consuming. However, knowing your competition will help you to budget your time more effectively and know if it is worth your time. For example, the Ayn Rand Institute offers scholarships that involve reading a novel and in response, writing an essay. It is very competitive, but if you have the time—go for it.
- Use School as a Resource. Visit your school’s financial aid or career center. Professionals working in these departments have the networking skills to help you research and they probably have a list of scholarships available. Also, if you happen to know a teacher who is willing to edit your work, this could be very beneficial.
- Read Carefully. Essay contests are crafted so that the writer keeps-on-track and so that the judge’s time is not being wasted. Make sure you follow key criteria, such as word count or page limits, font, margins, and how it should be submitted (email, etc.), because simple mistakes can cost you big points.
- Save, Save, Save. Keep a large box in your basement or closet to store all of your accomplishments, especially if your work has been published or is chosen as a winning piece for a writing contest. They look great in a portfolio when you are looking for a job someday!