• Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

Making the Most of Scholarships: Taking Your Search for Scholarship to the Next Level

How to get a scholarship 2024

Like many other Sinclair students, I am preparing to graduate this spring. I will be making the transition into life at a university, which comes with a lot of responsibility – financial and otherwise. 

My biggest fear throughout my college career has been burdening my family with debt. My brother, who completed eight years of higher education, is still working to pay off some of his student loans. And while I have not had to take out any yet, I see it in my future. 

Thus, I wish to exhaust every possible resource – including scholarships. 

“Students should never feel like they shouldn’t look for scholarships just because of what their situation is,” said Brown. 

– Michelle Brown

Considering I opted for Sinclair over a four-year university coming out of high school, I have not had much experience with scholarship applications thus far. However, after reading books, having my essays reviewed by the Writing Lab, and talking with a few scholarship professionals, I have learned some important tips and tricks that I want to share with those who may also be new to this process. 

Make a plan – for everything. 

Whether you are figuring out how much money in scholarships you are looking for, or what you wish to communicate through an essay, you will want to develop a system for conquering that task. 

Michelle Brown, Director of Scholarship Services at The Dayton Foundation, said that one student covered her entire college career by tracking her scholarship applications in a spreadsheet. 

They figured out what worked for her in order to “treat [scholarship applications] like a part-time job,” as Brown said. 

Brown had a piece of advice that we as students already get quite often: don’t procrastinate!

“The last week our application was due, we had 600 students submit,” she said, comparing that to the just over 1000 applications received this year. 

Creativity and out-of-the-box thinking don’t just apply to essay writing but searching for opportunities as well. Even if the more accessible scholarships promoted by your school are not for you, there will be some out there! 

“Students should never feel like they shouldn’t look for scholarships just because of what their situation is,” said Brown. 

Photo from Canva

In fact, the more niche you can get with your search, the better.

“You have the best chance with specific scholarships,” Alex Harter, a scholarship assistant at Sinclair, said. 

Think about it this way: are you better off vying for $1,000 against 50 applicants locally or 500 applicants nationally? 

Scholarships offered by community foundations, charities, and professional associations, for example, tend to be less competitive because they may be more difficult to find. So, if you know you’re going into a specific industry, use associated keywords in your search. 

Harter also recommends scholarship databases, which typically have the capability to search by amount, due date, GPA, and other criteria. Some well-known databases include the U.S. Department of Education, Scholarship America, and Scholarship Owl. 

But be careful – a legitimate scholarship website will never guarantee winnings or ask you for money to apply! These resources should always be free. 

Pay attention to directions and qualifications.

Both Brown and Harter said that not following directions is a common reason for students not receiving scholarships. 

Harter pointed out ‘yes/no’ questions in particular. Many of the scholarships in Sinclair’s database require you to answer these, and doing so incorrectly could unknowingly disqualify you. 

Speaking from experience, writing a 1,000-word essay for what seems like a measly $500 can feel useless and unproductive. But every little bit counts toward your future education and your overall success. 

Remember that scholarship committees want to hear your authentic story, so don’t overthink it. Be yourself, be professional, and be optimistic. 

Even if you do not see success right away, keep going. Putting your best foot forward is better than not putting your foot forward at all. 

For more information about scholarships at Sinclair.

(Featured image from Canva)

Written by Carly Webster, Business Manager