Don’t assume your student won’t qualify because of average grades or test scores
There are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of scholarships available to students with average grades and test scores. If there are scholarships that require a GPA disclosure, your student must usually have a GPA between 2.5 and 3.5 as both are common requirements. Once that requirement is met, the student has the same chance as others with higher GPAs.
The scholarships that rely on grades and test scores are usually from the institution your student is planning on attending. They utilize scholarship money to help encourage high achieving students to attend their institution. However, not every scholarship your student’s institution provides relies on a high achieving aspect. So, if you have it, flaunt it. If not, there are many other places to look.
Don’t Pass Up the Small Scholarships
Scholarships with the least competition are between $500 and $5,000. Many students do not believe the effort it takes to find and apply for scholarships is worth the $500 to $5,000 payout. This is ridiculous! Just think of all the books, supplies, tuition, food, housing, and gas that sum could pay for. Change or challenge both of your mindsets and look at the scholarship as a way to accrue less student loan debt. Scholarships are a legitimate way to pay for some of college, if not all of it.
Don’t let your student casually write their scholarship essays
This is your student’s one shot to WOW the committee. Make sure they take time to write an outstanding essay. Committees are not looking for sob stories, they want to see a challenge a student faced and how they overcame it with perseverance, courage, and dedication. Committees want essays that appeal to their emotions, yet show there was progression and the student learned from this process.
Similar to a normal essay, do not start writing without doing the research. Have your student look at the company, organization, or entity to see the interests, values, and mission. For example, if your student took the time to see a specific company is interested in providing clean drinking water to hurricane victims and your student has volunteered by helping provide clean drinking water to a needy group, that would be a great connection to focus on.
It is also important to focus on the word count. Many scholarships want 250 word essays. This is not much space to let the committee know how great your student is. Make sure your student knows that every word is important and there should really be no “fluff” like they might add when they are trying to meet a page count in their school essay.
Don’t let them forget
“If my mom or dad told me to do it, I would.” We hear this all the time from students at UWL. We see that students do not view scholarships as a viable way to pay for college, however, that is where you come in. Push your student to apply for scholarships. If they require more structure, help them come up with a goal. Tell them to complete (X) number of scholarships monthly or set specific times of the year to finish scholarships. For example, students (usually) have summers, Fall break, Winter break, and Spring break off of school. Utilize these times to complete scholarship applications.
Don’t be afraid to give incentives for completing scholarship applications
Here at the SRC, we try to encourage applying for scholarships as much as possible. By offering prizes and rewards for participating in scholarship programs. Incentives usually have a pretty successful and positive outcome and gives the student something to look forward to once they complete a scholarship application. Money goes a long way, and if you can spend a little to help encourage them to win a lot, it might just save you in the long run. (Maybe they will have enough money once they graduate to get their own apartment instead of moving back in with you!) If money is not an option for you, then think of their favorite meals/snacks or offer to bring the family pet to campus to visit. Get creative!
Don’t think the timing is wrong
A lot of students think the only time to apply for scholarships is their senior year of high school. However, there are places out there ready to give scholarships starting in middle school for students with future higher goals. It is also never too late to apply! There are thousands of scholarships available for undergraduate students through their super senior years, graduate school, and even a few for former students who have graduated and are still paying off student loans. Also don’t forget about fellowships! These post-graduate “internships” provide an excellent stepping stone into the field, and sometimes provide amazing scholarships.
In addition, scholarship deadlines occur year round. As long as your student has free time, there are open scholarship opportunities. If your student is feeling discouraged because they could not apply for a scholarship whose deadline has passed, they should keep looking for more. Chances are there are similar scholarships available elsewhere and the application enrollment period could always reopen next year, so make sure to set a reminder for next year!
Don’t forget to check out the SRC’s website! We have resources that are just a few clicks away and might just help your student win big. We also provide the Scholarship Database which houses hundreds of scholarships hand selected for UWL students. No time to search? We have you covered with the “Get Scholarific” survey. Fill out the survey and we will send your student scholarship information based on their responses. Our goal is to make the scholarship search and application process as simple as possible so let us help you!