We all remember the classic expression, “I think I can. I think I can,” from the beloved story, The Little Engine That Could. Scholarship research can sometimes feel this way. It is, if you let your imagination go for a minute, the big hill in front of us can seem impossible. We may sometimes think we will never make it over to the other side to find the right scholarship for us. To do this, we must find the Little Engine inside all of us and think that we can, and we will, make it to the end.
Fuel Your Engine with Good Organization
It is impossible for us to make it over the big hill of scholarship research if we are not properly fueled with good organizational skills. Be sure to keep a portfolio, either hard copy or electronically, of all transcripts, reference letters, resume of your accomplishments and awards, and a checklist of everything required for each individual scholarship application. The likelihood of researching, finding, and applying for a scholarship all in one day is unlikely, so you will want to keep good notes of where you found the scholarship, and what is required for its application.
Resources to Help
Proper resources include reaching out to your school counselor or financial aid department. These resources will have information on current scholarships, and will let you know which ones have been successful for students in the past.
Other resources include your local libraries, and of course, the internet. Use caution, however, when looking for scholarships on the internet so that you do not become the victim of a scam. If you are ever asked to pay for a scholarship application, or have to provide personal information like your social security number or bank account, be aware, this may be a scam. Contact your high school counselor or a financial aid professional to seek their advice. One reputable search engine on the internet is FastWeb at www.fastweb.com or Scholarships.com.
Know Your Deadline
Even The Little Engine That Could had a schedule, and needed to follow it. Most scholarship deadlines will occur from January through March each year, and distribute aid starting in the fall semester. Some scholarships will have summer or fall deadlines, so always pay careful attention when looking at an application. Also, be sure to note if the deadline is for the application to be postmarked, or must be in the hands of the scholarship committee on that date. Mark important dates on a calendar, and put reminders in your phone to help you stay on top of all your scholarship deadlines.
Never Give up!
Even if you do not succeed the first time you apply for a scholarship, keep telling yourself you can find one that will work out for you. The more times you try, the more likely you are to be successful. Always remember to ask for support. This can be an overwhelming task, so reach out to friends, family, and school advisors to encourage you along the way. Good luck, and remember to “Think You Can”.
If you have ever researched scholarships, what helped you the most?