Scholarships come in many different forms.
- Some are automatic and require very little special effort to obtain. Typically these are based upon test scores and high school grades. Some of these are sponsored by your university, others may be statewide. There are multiple students who receive these scholarships. These are typically awarded when you apply to a university. Generally they are renewable. They are not scholarships you can later qualify for.
- Some you must apply for. These scholarships typically have very specific criteria. Generally only a limited number of students are awarded these scholarships. Criteria used in the award normally include
- Academic record
- Financial Status
Some of these are renewable, but many are a one-time scholarship. The source of these scholarships can be
- the university
- a professional or social organization
- a parent’s employer
- a community group
The steps to obtaining a scholarship include
- Identify scholarships you might be eligible for. See the note above. There are a number of sources of scholarships.
- Apply for the scholarship. This may require you have an essay on your career plans or why you are a good candidate for the scholarship. If you do need an essay you should have your advisor or someone else who is familiar with scholarships review your essay for you. You may also need to complete a form.
- Obtain references for the scholarship. These should be faculty (including your advisor) or others who can speak to your qualifications for the scholarships.
- Keep your resume current and very professional looking. Although the application may not require a reference, including one can give your application a very special look.
- Whatever the outcome is of the scholarship decision, send a thank you to the scholarship organization. This thank you should be more than just 1 -2 sentences. Make it genuine. You’ll never know how such a simple act can benefit you in the long term.
Some final thoughts on scholarships.
- Apply for multiple scholarships. Don’t just count on one.
- Keep a file of all of your application materials. You may be able to use these on subsequent applications.
- Send the scholarship organization periodic updates on how you are doing. This communication can be very helpful to the organization and to you should you have a chance to renew the scholarship.
Treat scholarships as icing on the cake, but don’t use scholarships as your principal funding source for college..