Need money for college? I think I know your answer. Even though the best way to earn money for college is through merit aid – earned with high grades and high test scores – some students won’t qualify. That’s okay!
Another way to earn money for college is with scholarships - a form of financial aid. There are scholarships for average students, vegetarians, tuba players, making duct tape prom accessories, drawing waterfoul, and thousands upon thousands of other options. Some have nothing to do with grades, and everything to do with you. People want to support your commitment to earn a college degree. So let’s start earning!
As a high school senior, Christopher realized that he could not afford to pay for college, even though he had excellent grades and test scores. On his own, he started searching for scholarships. As a result, he amassed $1.3 million dollars in aid including the Bill Gates scholarship. While attending Drexel University, he and two classmates created Scholly, a scholarship database to help other college-bound students find scholarships.
So since you need money for college, here are a few steps to start earning money searching for scholarships.
Search for and favorite 2 or 3 scholarship databases. Using multiple sites is important because some may have 2,000, 20,000, or 2 million scholarships, and not all of them will apply to you. Consider using bigfuture (College Board), Scholarships.com, MeritAid.com, FinAid, Supercollege, and other state and local websites.
Create your profile. A general profile would generate lots of leads but would be time consuming to search through. A specific profile allows the database to match scholarships with key words.
Hustle. Don’t wait for scholarships to come to you, because they won’t. Unless your dad is bringing you scholarship applications from the school office. But who uses paper anymore!
Organize your search results. Maintain a spreadsheet or journal of the scholarships to manage deadlines, expectations, offers, and more.
Leverage your time. Now that you have some favorite sites, are organized, and ready to hustle, divide your work into “chunks.” You won’t complete your search in one weekend, so leverage your time. As an example, spend 30 minutes every other day to search and apply for 10 scholarship offers. Now this is where you “get paid” to search for scholarships. If you spend 10 hours searching and win one $500 award, you just earned $50 per hour! So work in chunks to manage your time wisely. After each search session, reward yourself with a chunky chocolate cookie!
Apply for more. If you are hustling like Christopher, use the power of ten. Search for 100 scholarships. Apply for 10. Win 1. Now apply for more.
Remember, there are NO scholarship guarantees. Even if you pay $100 for scholarship results, you will be disappointed. If you’ve started late, you’ll become desperate and may not make good decisions. No one can guarantee anything for anybody at anytime. If you pay for access like Scholly, know that matches don’t equate to money. You have to apply, be competitive, and wait months to know if you won the $500 prize.
Following these steps will make you a scholarship SCHOLAR. (See what I did there?)
Next week, I’ll share how you can search for scholarships based on what you drink, what you eat, and what you wear.
Through student ministry and educational consulting (career and college planning), I have enjoyed guiding teenagers to discover their higher calling.