Trying to get your SAT score up. Failing at that. Taking the ACT instead. Jotting down all of your application deadlines into your last MHS planner. Getting those recommendation letters. Living in the counselor’s office. Driving your car to school. Having your senior night, finally. Walking onto campus half-awake and miraculously dressed. Caught between not-caring about anything at all and being overly-sentimental as you get your last order of bosco sticks.
This may or may not be snapshots of what your senior year will consist of, but in the middle of whatever frenzy you’re going through, one of the overwhelming thoughts that might be sitting in the back of your mind is scholarships.
It’s crazy enough just trying to get into colleges, nevermind even tackling paying for them. Once senior year starts, hit the ground running by getting a solid start to catapult you into scholarship search.
If you don’t know where to start, that’s okay, start anyway. And start as early as you possibly can. Make a Google spreadsheet or a word document for yourself in order to organize your options, listing out due dates, requirements, and each scholarship’s application links. Even if you don’t get to applying to all of them, it’s a good resource for you to constantly look refer to, add onto, and check off.
Find your niche! There are plenty of scholarships out there that cater to who you are as an individual, including scholarships based off of your ethnicity, financial background, love of food, or athletic involvement.
Be proactive. If getting free money was easy, this world would be an entirely different place. I know, no one wants to have an awkward conversation with their counselor that they neglected their first three years of high school or spend hours searching online for opportunities. Look at it as a job; you may spend 10 hours searching and applying over the course of a week, and only get one $500 scholarship, but that’s $50 an hour you just made.
Type out and save your responses in a separate document first, so you have what you’ve already written to refer to for future prompts. While reusing responses is discouraged, a lot of scholarships will ask you the same generic questions, which you can build off of using answers you already spent hours on.
If writing copious amounts of essays isn’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of opportunities that require less words, but more creativity. Chegg offers monthly scholarships that only require you to submit a three-sentence response to their current prompt. Fastweb offers a $10,000 scholarship for designing and submitting a greeting card. Niche’s “No Essay” scholarship simply entails entering your information (winners are chosen at random). Just remember that there are loads of students who seek these atypical scholarships, so competition may be higher.
Don’t shy away from writing those essays! It could, quite literally, pay off big time in your approaching future. Websites like Unigo, Zinch, and Cappex provide a wealth of information for just about any scholarship available to applicants. While these may have thousands of students applying, our community has scholarships of our own that you have access to. Milpitas’ College and Career Center has a web page specifically dedicated to scholarships: here
While scholarships may be overwhelming, with proper planning and some motivation it is definitely possible to get yourself some invaluable college cash. An hour a day keeps the student debt away! -cries in the distance-