What I Wish I Knew About Scholarships When I First Started College

I’ll admit that when I first started college I thought that scholarships were something that you only applied for when you were in high school despite my mom’s many emails about scholarships and numerous encouragements to see if there were any out there that I might be able to qualify for or apply for. Looking back, I wish I’d actually set aside time and put forth the effort to apply for scholarships throughout my entire academic career instead of just my senior year in high school. Unfortunately I didn’t. In fact, I didn’t even realize how many scholarships there were out there looking for candidates just like me until earlier this year when I started working for the Scholarship Resource Center.

However, I’ve never really been the greatest at time management so I doubt knowing about all these scholarships would have helped me that much. I wish that I hadn’t waited as long as I did to get better at not being as big of a procrastinator as I have been. Although, there is always the possibility that if I had known about them then it somehow would have prompted me to force myself to get better about these things. But we have yet to develop the technology that would allow me to go back in time and find out if this theory, when put to practice, could be proven to work.

I wish I had known that you don’t have to have a perfect 4.0 GPA to qualify for most scholarships or that there are a lot of scholarships that don’t consider a person’s GPA or financial need as much as they will the quality of the candidate and their accomplishments. Grades have always been a bit of a sore point for me. Now, this is not to say that I’m the worst student out there but I’m certainly not the best either. Like many people, I fall somewhere in the middle which always worried me when I’d apply for scholarships because I knew I’d be competing with people that most likely had far better GPAs than I did and that made me think I didn’t even stand a chance at getting some of the scholarships that I could have if I’d only applied for them.

I wish I’d thought the extracurricular activities that I’d participated in were enough…but I didn’t. Instead, I was afraid that the ones I had participated in would somehow make it seem like I hadn’t been as involved as I should have been because I’d never participated in sports or been a part of student government or student council. For whatever reason, I’d never really thought of volunteering at my church or as an assistant summer school teacher as actual volunteering until I had a few people inform me that it was and I’d been mistaken in thinking otherwise.

Lastly, I wish I’d realized that qualifying for financial aid didn’t mean that I still shouldn’t apply for scholarships. If I’d realized this at the beginning then I highly doubt that I’d owe nearly as much as I do in student loans. The first couple years that I was in college I ended up taking out as many loans as I possibly could because I couldn’t afford to pay the cost of out of state tuition that I needed to pay and the scholarships that I received barely even made a dent in that amount. If there had been a Scholarship Resource Center at my old college then I’d like to think that I would have gone in, gotten the help and encouragement I needed to apply, and won more in scholarships instead of going further and further into debt.

I hope this will help to serve at least some of you with the motivation you need to continue (or start) on your scholarship journey and not give up on trying to apply just because you aren’t a perfect fit for some of the scholarships you’ve looked at or because you’re no longer a senior in high school. Use my regrets as a lesson so that you can reach your full scholarship potential instead of looking back on the years you wasted not applying and wishing you’d done things differently.


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