As spring arrives, high school students can take advantage of some of their free time during spring break to help fill the family college coffers with private scholarship winnings. Why should your child consider giving up precious time at the beach or movie theater? Simple. If you’re like most parents, the net cost of college will need to be considered when your child makes his or her final college choice. So the sooner your child can help the family raise cash for college, the odds are he or she will have more colleges from which to choose to identify a great fit college. Here are some tips to increase your child’s chances of winning private scholarship money for college.
Avoid the Crowds
Have your student apply to scholarships that have less competition. The biggest tip I can give you is to not focus on national scholarships; instead, have your child seek out local and regional ones. These will have much less competition. Students applying to national scholarships will likely be competing with thousands, if not tens of thousands of other applicants – definitely not the odds you want.
One of the easiest places to uncover possibilities is to ask the high school counseling office for their scholarship collection since local sponsors will send information about their scholarships directly to local high schools. See if local alumni, or trusts or foundations set up by alumni, offer awards. Also look for other scholarships offered by local service organizations, community groups and corporations. The harder the scholarship is to find, the less competition it will likely have. Have your student ask older siblings of their friends which scholarships they found. Network with everyone you know to see if they are aware of any scholarships or can lead you to someone who does.
The Early Bird Gets the Worm
Next year’s high school seniors should plan to finish most of their college admissions applications before summer ends. Why? Because classmates will be focusing on the college admission process the first couple months of senior year and won’t have time to work on scholarship applications. Your child can take advantage of this time by applying to scholarships that have fall deadlines when there is less competition.
Get to Know the Scholarship Sponsor
The more students know about a scholarship and its sponsor, the better job they can do on the application. Before filling out the application, have your student research a few items. First, what is the mission statement of the sponsoring organization? Second, what type of candidate has been chosen in past years? (Your student may be able to find this information online or in a press release where there is a description of the previous winner.) Third, who will be judging the applications? The answers to these three questions can greatly help students in determining how to best approach the application because they will have a clearer picture as to what type of candidate the sponsor may be looking for and from what perspective they will be judged.
Seniors Aren’t the Only Lucky Ones
Students can begin applying to scholarships as soon as they are in high school (and even earlier in some cases). High school freshman, sophomores and juniors will have much less competition for winning private scholarships than high school seniors because these younger classmen aren’t typically thinking about winning college scholarships.
And don’t make the mistake in thinking that after your child graduates from high school the opportunity ends. There are private scholarships for college students too.
All the best, Deborah Fox
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