There are so many great places out there to look for scholarships! It doesn’t matter whether you’re still in high school, about to enter college for the first (or second or even third) time, or even if you’re a continuing college student, they’re out there.
For those that are still in high school or just graduated, here are some great places to utilize in your scholarship search. One of the best first stops that you can make in your scholarship journey is into your high school counselor’s or college financial aid officer’s office. Trust me when I say that they know what they’re talking about and will be able to point you in the right direction should you find yourself clueless as to where to start looking. I remember heading into my high school counselor’s office at least half a dozen times when I first started looking for scholarships. When heading in to talk to someone about scholarships or even just sitting down at a computer or desk to fill out an application, it’s best to make sure you have some information prepared.
Typically, it’s helpful to have information on both your and your family’s financial background, any special interests or talents you have, any volunteering you’ve done and the specifics of that (dates worked, places, things that you did while there, if you were able to set yourself apart from other volunteers through a special project or a unique way of volunteering), and any jobs that you or your parents have held. The great part about high school counselor’s is that they will know about any scholarships that are offered through the school’s parent-teacher organization, alumni group, and athletic booster clubs as well as any local ones that might require a paper application (they’ll usually have a copy of the application or will be able to attain one should you want to apply for it). Financial aid officers can recommend scholarships that are offered by the college, by community organizations, or provide you with other external scholarship resources.
You can search your high school website or the websites of other, local, high schools for scholarships. You can double or triple your scholarship information resources by searching the websites of the colleges that you’re considering or the website of the college that you’ve chosen as well as the colleges in the surrounding area. By searching this way, you’ll be able to double your chances of finding external scholarships that you’d qualify for. If you’re in any student clubs or organizations then you can ask the officers or advisors of the organization if they know of any scholarships that are offered or awarded to outstanding members. Some communities offer foundation scholarships or even private scholarships through local businesses. The best way to search for these kinds of scholarships is by visiting the websites for your town, city, and state.
If your parents or grandparents spent any time in the military then you may qualify for scholarships. If any of them did and are members of a local branch of the American Legion then you can either ask someone in the Legion if they know of any scholarships that you might be eligible for or you can have your family members inquire for you. Another great place for both parents and students to look is through their employers. There are many companies out there that offer either tuition reimbursement or scholarship opportunities to their employees or to the dependents of their employees. You can either take a look at the list of employers that UWL’s Scholarship Resource Center (SRC) has found or you and your parents can head into the human resources department at work and ask about any scholarships or education programs that they might offer. Be sure to check if any of your parents are in a union. If they are, then they might offer scholarships to the children of their members.
If you’ve participated in any sports or organizations (arts, clubs, or religious) then be sure to check and see if they offer any scholarships! There are some awards that will be limited specifically to the members of that organization while others will simply be offered to anyone who shares those common interests. Sometimes you’ll be able to find scholarships by inquiring with your local government or state representatives. Local newspapers also like to print the names of past scholarship winners so you’d be able to research potential scholarships by going onto the newspaper’s webpage and looking up previous scholarship winners and the scholarships they won.
The internet in general is a great place to look for scholarships! There are dozens of pages devoted specifically to helping students find scholarships. Businesses, colleges, associations, governments, and organizations will often post information about scholarships on their webpages and may even provide students with an online application to submit. There are webpages that will automatically enter students for the chance to win scholarships if they take surveys or by performing tasks to help those throughout their community.
Be sure to check back for part 2 of the best places to look for scholarships!