Let’s talk about some common scholarship myths!
Myth #1: In order to be eligible for scholarships, you need to be financially destitute.
While financial need may be taken into consideration, it’s not the only thing that scholarship committees look at. There’s also the fact that the definition of “need” isn’t necessarily a fixed or finite one. “Need” for one person could be drastically different than “need” for another person but that doesn’t mean that they don’t both require help paying for their education. There are also a lot of scholarships out there that don’t even factor in financial need. That’s the beauty of “merit-based” scholarships! While they won’t consider your or your family’s financial need they will consider your achievements, skills, career goals, family background and a host of other things.
Myth #2: Only high school seniors can win scholarships.
This is one of those myths that discourages many college students from even applying for scholarships because they don’t think they’ll actually qualify for them since they are no longer in high school. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: it’s never too early or too late to apply for scholarships, you just have to know where to look! The beauty of attending school at UWL is that we have the Scholarship Resource Center (SRC)! The SRC can help point you in the right direction for major-specific scholarships, help you find employers that offer tuition reimbursement or scholarship opportunities, and help you edit your scholarship essays. Don’t be afraid to use this great tool on campus!
Myth #3: College scholarships are only for star athletes.
Believe it or not, the majority of scholarships that are awarded to college students are not for star athletes. There are thousands of scholarships out there for those that have never been good at sports, those that are moderately good at sports, and those that could go on to be the next Michael Jordan or (since we’re proud Wisconsinites) Aaron Rodgers or Jordy Nelson. The point is, it doesn’t matter whether you are or aren’t good at athletics, there are plenty of scholarships out there that could be a perfect fit for you!
Myth #4: The only way you’ll be able to win money for college is if you get straight A’s.
While straight A’s certainly help, grades, like financial “need”, aren’t the only thing that is taken into consideration. Most scholarships are likely to reward applicants for their specific skills or talents. It’s more important to fit the specific qualities that the scholarship committee is looking for than it is to have a perfect GPA. Most importantly, don’t let the lack of a perfect GPA stop you from applying for scholarships!
Myth #5: You need to get involved in as many extracurricular activities as possible to win scholarships.
It’s about quality over quantity when it comes to extracurricular activities! If you’re in a bunch of organizations or do a lot of extracurricular activities just to make yourself look good and don’t actually make a difference through those, then it’s more likely that the results will be similar to you not doing anything with your time (other than school, of course). However, if you’re in a couple groups or do a couple extracurricular activities, make a big difference and are able to set yourself apart from the crowd instead of just blending into it, then it will be more likely that scholarship committees will want to stop and take a closer look at your application.
Myth #6: Qualifying for financial aid means you don’t have to apply for scholarships.
Financial aid and scholarships are meant to complement each other, not to be mutually exclusive. It’s dangerous to rely on financial aid alone! Just because you qualify for financial aid doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to qualify for enough to cover your entire bill and even if you do, then it’s likely that you’ll be taking out loans which don’t just disappear once you accept them. Loans will continue to accrue interest during your time in school which means that you might have more to pay back at the end of your schooling if you don’t also factor in the interest rates for any loan(s) you might accept. The beauty of scholarships is that they are free money that doesn’t require you to pay them back at any point in time.
Myth #7: Make sure to apply for every scholarship that you find.
Here’s the problem with this one, if you apply for as many scholarships as you can, you’re likely to either rush through the applications or start to sound a bit generic. Applying for as many scholarships as you can also takes away from the time you could be allocating to the scholarships that you have the best chance of winning and making sure that everything about those applications is nicely polished, so to speak. It’s important to be selective when it comes to determining which scholarships fit you the best! Now I’m not trying to discourage anyone from applying for as many scholarships as they qualify for, I’m just trying to make sure that you all are mindful of which ones should take priority over other ones.
I wish you all good luck as you start thinking about heading into your next round of the scholarship application process. I hope this scholarship myth busters list will help to encourage you to apply for more scholarships as well as knowing that it’s ok to prioritize some scholarships above others.