Scholarship Tips

The following are some tips for looking and qualifying for scholarships. Also, check out The 411 on Scholarships at Pay4CollegeArizona. They have some great tips and helps too. If you have any questions, please contact Ms. Bynum.

There are basically two types of scholarships. The first type are scholarships that colleges and universities give to good students as inducements to choose to attend their school. These scholarships are strictly for students with high GPAs and good standardized test scores. You usually apply for these scholarships simply by applying to the school, although you should check with your school of choice to make sure. Also, specific colleges and departments within a large university may have additional scholarships available that you need to apply for separately.

The second type of scholarship is the private scholarship. A foundation, a large company, a non-profit organization, or a church group may create a scholarship and set any criteria they like. They could ask for an essay, a speech, community service, leadership, or anything else they wish. They could decide that only left-handers qualify for the scholarship, or only students from particular schools, or of a particular ethnic origin. Each scholarship is unique, and the qualifying and submission criteria are too.

With the above in mind, here are some tips:

1. Get good grades! No matter what anyone says, grades do matter. If you have a good or great GPA, getting scholarships will be a lot easier than if you only have a fair GPA. You can improve your GPA by retaking classes you may have failed or passed with a poor grade.

2. You do not have to be an exceptional student to get a scholarship. This may seem like a contradiction of number one above, but it’s really not. Yes, GPA matters, but so do extracurricular activities, community service, hobbies, interests, essay-writing, and so forth. No matter who you are, there is a scholarship for which you could qualify. Good grades just make it easier, but there are many scholarships that do not ask about grades at all.

3. Start early. Apply for scholarships in your freshman year of high school. There are plenty of scholarships available to high school students of all grade levels. Also keep in mind that your freshman year counts more than your senior year because your senior year is usually not on your transcript when you apply for scholarships and to colleges.

4. Apply at the right time. In other words, don’t procrastinate! Scholarship deadlines usually fall from October to March. Look for scholarships year-round, but be prepared to apply for many more during the fall and winter. Private organizations do not arbitrarily assign deadlines for their scholarships. They want enough time to evaluate all the candidates for their scholarship, and they want to notify winners before their high school graduations. Also, submit your applications early rather than just barely on time. It looks much better.

5. Pay attention to details! Read all the instructions. Do not allow your hard work to be thrown away simply because you did not follow the directions. If you do not follow the application’s directions precisely, your application will be discarded.

6. You do not have to go to a four-year university to receive a scholarship. Are you planning on going to community college or a trade or technical school? How about cosmetology school? Whatever your dreams, if you plan to pursue any sort of formal education after graduation, there’s a scholarship for you. Many scholarships are not just for students going to big universities.

7. Avoid scholarship scams. You never have to pay money to receive a scholarship, aside from postage to mail in your application. Also beware if you are told you won a scholarship for which you did not apply. It’s most likely a scam. For more information on avoiding scams, visit this site: Ouch! Students Getting Stung Trying to Find $$$ for College.

8. Take rigorous courses. Colleges and scholarship committees look at GPA, but they also look at the courses you take. A “B” in an AP or honors course means more than an “A” in a keyboarding course. Yes, go ahead and take the keyboarding course, but also take some tougher courses, too.

9. Don’t be afraid to search for scholarships yourself. The counselors are here to help you. Feel free to contact them for assistance. However, there is much you can do on your own, too. You know better than anyone else what your talents and interests are. Seek out scholarships for which you may be uniquely qualified.

10. Take the PSAT in October of your junior year. Every high school sophomore and junior should take the PSAT, which is the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, in the fall. While only juniors can enter the National Merit Scholarship competition, it is good practice for sophomores to take it as well. Both the UofA and ASU offer very generous scholarships of over $12,500 a year to National Merit Finalists and over $10,000 a year to National Merit Semi-Finalists. That is more than the Presidental Scholarship at both schools! The only way to enter the scholarship competition is to take the test.