If you’ve heard you need to be at the very top of your class to even be considered for scholarships, don’t believe it. In fact, there are many things out there that just aren’t true about scholarships, how to get them, who is eligible, and the like. Let’s separate fact from fiction, shall we?
Myth #1: Most scholarships require good grades.
Look around—there are scholarships for all kinds of students. Some consider an applicant’s academic profile, but there are plenty of others for students with different interests and talents and those with financial need.
Myth #2: Since I’m not a student with financial need, I don’t have a great chance at receiving any scholarships.
Plenty of scholarships are awarded based on merit or talent, not need. There are essay contest scholarships, scholarships for students who volunteer, scholarships for those with unique hobbies and talents, and religious scholarships, to name just a few.
Myth #3: There’s too much competition for the scholarships out there.
This is an easy excuse not to apply for any financial assistance, but it’s inaccurate. Certainly, if the only scholarship you applied for is the one that says it gets 500,000 applicants a year, you should probably consider casting a wider net. Check out www.scholarships.com, which has a free search engine to help you find all kinds of scholarships—and narrow your search to only the scholarships for which you are eligible. Some scholarships are highly competitive, but there are so many scholarships to choose from—and some are lesser known.
Myth #4: Applying for scholarships isn’t worth the effort.
Winning one $500 scholarship may not seem like much when you’re facing thousands of dollars in tuition each year for the next several years. But every dollar counts and is a dollar you won’t need to earn or pay back later (via a loan). It is worth the time and energy to apply for as many scholarships for which you qualify. Think of it this way: if you put six hours into scholarship applications and receive one scholarship for $1,200, that’s like earning $200/hour.
Myth #5: Most scholarships will come directly from the school I attend—why bother searching elsewhere?
The institutions to which you apply may automatically consider you for scholarships that they offer through their financial aid office or foundation, but don’t assume that is their process—or that this is the only place you should look. Check out scholarships in your area—through your (or your parent’s) employer, at your local bank, or at any organizations with which your family is involved (your church or rotary organization, for example). If you’re in high school, stop by your guidance counselor’s office often, too, to see what new scholarships pop up throughout the year.
Myth #6: I don’t need to worry about applying for scholarships until my senior year of high school.
Don’t assume this without finding out for certain, as each scholarship is different. Many scholarships accept applications from students as early as sophomore year, so always check each scholarship’s requirements.
Myth #7: I’m a nontraditional student, so there isn’t much out there for me anyway.
Definitely not true. Look around! Scholarships like the Osher Reentry Scholarship Program from the Bernard Osher Foundation, and the Jeanette Rankin Women’s Scholarship are out there. If you’re a single parent, search for single parent scholarships in your area, too.
Bottom line: don’t believe everything you hear about scholarships and what is or isn’t available. Do your own research and remember that there are millions of dollars in scholarship funds available to students of all ages and from all backgrounds. Some of that could be yours—go get started.