For a list of potential scholarship opportunities, please visit with your school counselor.
Scholarships are awards that are given to students based on several qualifying criteria. It’s important to take advantage of the free resources when looking for ways to pay for college and post-secondary education.
Scholarships range in focus and criteria. Below are some broad categories to help with your search.
Merit: Awards based on academic success. Factors such as GPA, ACT and/or SAT scores, leadership roles, community service, athletic accomplishments, artistic abilities, etc. are also considered.
Need: Awards based on a student’s financial need. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form used to apply for financial aid.
Student-specific: Awards catered for students based on race, gender, religion, family, sexual orientation, and many other factors.
Career-specific: Awards for students pursuing a specific field or industry.
The best way to see if you qualify for a scholarship is to simply apply! Of course, you’ll want to be selective and only apply to those that are relevant to you. For example, if you’re part of the LGBT community, you’ll want to focus on finding scholarships geared toward gays/lesbians/bisexuals. By narrowing down your search, you can better budget your time and have a higher chance of receiving the scholarships you apply for.
How to Qualify for a Scholarship
Working towards receiving good grades in school will help you earn a solid GPA. GPA is a huge factor for most scholarship applications. In fact, many require that an applicant have at least a minimum GPA of 3.0 to qualify. Sometimes, a 2.0 may be acceptable. In order to keep qualifying for certain scholarships, students may be required to maintain that GPA throughout their college years as well.
On top of GPA, it is important to study for standardized tests. Test scores alone won’t deter you from getting scholarships but scoring well on them certainly would benefit you. Depending on the scholarship you apply for, you may be asked to provide your test scores for the Pre-Scholastic Achievement Test (PSAT), Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT), or the American College Test (ACT). The SAT exam is commonly used for evaluating college admissions these days. These standardized exams are designed to test each student’s abilities in five areas including math, reading, writing, science, and language.
Depending on the scholarship you are applying for, you may be asked to write an essay to help judges get a better picture of who you are as a person and how you well you write. If requested for an essay, you’ll be provided with a topic to write about. The topic may be about anything from talking about your personal experience about something growing up, talking about an extracurricular activity and how that’s shaped you, or sharing your college and career goals.
Engaging in extracurricular activities is a good way to show that you are involved in other things other than just academics. In fact, there are some scholarships out there that are offered only to people involved with certain extracurricular activities. Whether you’re into charity work, sports, or any specific type of hobby, chances are there is an extracurricular activity out there for you.
If you can, try to incorporate one or two into your school schedule. Not only will it make you a more well-rounded student, it will also help increase your chances of scoring scholarships. Picking up an extracurricular activity may give you valuable life skills that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to attain from just class work, such as teamwork, leadership, physical strength and endurance, competition, and building a community, to name a few.
Letters of Recommendation
Another great perk of being a stellar student is that chances are, your teachers and coaches only have wonderful things to say about you! Take advantage of this and ask them to provide letters of recommendation. This may boost your chance of getting a scholarship. Most scholarships these days may request you to provide anywhere from one to three letters of recommendation. This allows the judges to see a side of you that you may not have mentioned or revealed through test scores, extracurriculars, and essays.
You might be wondering, who should I get a letter of recommendation from? Ideally, you’ll want to ask a teacher or coach who knows you well, not just on an academic level, but on a personal level as well. This way, they’ll be able to say more genuine things about you and be passionate about “advertising” you so to speak. Additionally, these people should be relevant to your goals and have a clear understanding of your college and career plans.