It’s that time again. Time to turn in scholarship applications. And just in time too. According to the National Center for Education Statistics “Average undergraduate tuition and fees for full-time students across all degree-granting postsecondary institutions in 2013–14 were $11,200—a 23 percent increase over the 2005–06 amount ($9,000)” (NCES, 2016). And with the 2016-2017 school, there is bound to be another increase in the cost of our tuition. How can we keep up? While federal financial aid can be a great option for many college students, some need to look to other sources for help in meeting school expenses. One of these sources is, of course, scholarships. The number of scholarships out there is absolutely mind-blowing. From your more mainstream departmental scholarships offered to students in certain areas of study to scholarships that reward students for their uniqueness (like being vegetarian or above average height or even being the cutest couple at your senior Prom (yes, it exists!)). The options are limitless.
Sifting through the lists and lists of scholarship options can be time consuming and honestly kind of overwhelming. How do you find scholarships that best match you and your qualifications and find them quickly?
My best piece of advice would be to go at it backwards. Instead of ploughing through the list of scholarships in the hopes of one that fits you best, nail down your greatest skills, achievements, interests, goals etc. first so that you can do a narrowed search for scholarships targeting people like you. That is, don’t focus solely on finding scholarships, but work on building your set of qualifications that you need for the scholarships. Doing this will speed up the time it takes to search for scholarships and also make your application much more strong and your likelihood of getting the scholarships you apply much more high.
The best way to start or continue to build your skills, abilities and accomplishments is getting involved on campus. Get involved in your department, join a student club that is related to your area of study, ask about and participate in research your professors are doing, join student government, volunteer through the Bennion Center…..again the options are limitless. This is your chance to find something you really love doing and connect with other students who love doing it to. Look for those opportunities to show leadership or gain new skills. Get out of your comfort zone. By focusing on giving yourself these sorts of opportunities while going to college, you will build the kind of qualifications scholarship providers are looking for. Your search for scholarships can become more specific as you find things related to what you are doing already and you will be able to talk about your experiences in detail in your application (something that will go miles in making your application stand out). Best of all, you will make friends and have experiences that will make your time (and money) spent in college that much more worth it.
Scholarships are out there. Despite rising tuition and school fees, there are ways to make paying for school possible (and even a little fun). Come into our office for more tips and info on how to make your scholarship applications stronger and don’t forget to check out the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid's website to search the databases and get started finding your scholarships now!