Planning to Receive a Scholarship
by Howard Freedman
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Start the process by developing your own functional resume by selecting major categories followed by up to five bullet points under each category. For example, Major categories can include Leadership, Academics, Community Service, Sports, Awards, School and Civic associations and so on. After selecting the categories list up to 5 major accomplishments under each, especially those in which you took initiative, made a difference or derived a benefit for others. Share your resume with parents, family members, friends, outside educators that can edit, add to and prioritize those points that are likely to make you stand out from the crowd. Your resume is also a valuable resource for college interviews, essays and will help you to become more confident.
Now that you have a framework of your accomplishments, focus on the simple word CAN DO. CAN is my acronym that describes important steps to supplement the more traditional ways of finding scholarship opportunities.
C stands for Concentration: Because there are so many scholarship opportunities, it is important to restrict your search and contacts to areas that compliment your achievements and interests. Beyond the colleges that you are considering, scholarships can come from several sources. These include national and local awards that are typically found on scholarship websites and publications in addition to high school and external organizations and generous businesses and benefactors that reward needy or certain types of students. The college admissions office awards scholarships based on merit and a process called Enrollment Management. This is the process that colleges use to recruit and reward certain students that they are seeking to recruit. Colleges also list many specific scholarships that are listed on their websites. That is why it important to understand the criteria for receiving the scholarship and what you need to do for consideration. Playing a musical instrument, proficiency in a foreign language, leadership, sports, and religion are some of the many areas most students can pursue. As you can see, you have many options but should concentrate on a select few that you can manage.
A is for action. Scholarships don’t just happen. You have to work for them. Read about different types of scholarships, ask school guidance counselors what scholarships were awarded in recent years and most of all be assertive. Take action before your senior year when you have more time to strategize. Taking action is scholarship the most stressful and sometimes painful aspect of strategizing but a very necessary step in a competitive world and a troubled economy.
N is for networking. Meet as many people as you can and follow up on all opportunities.
D is for decision making and adhering to dates and deadlines. Scholarship applications are date sensitive. You can have the best essay and be the most qualified for a scholarship yet lose out because you missed the filing deadlines. That is why it is so important to start this process between your junior and senior years. Select for which you have the best chance. Keep a calendar of critical filing dates yet submit them well in advance of the deadline. This should not be a problem as many scholarships may ask for the same information.
O is for being organized and focused. Keep a log of those you contacted, leads and outcomes. Target a specific dollar amount that you can reach and the progress of achieving your goal. Go after some of the smaller local scholarships, state and local scholarships and those awarded by the colleges that you are interested in. Realize that small scholarships with less competition can add up.
Although there are many scholarships to pursue the overall criteria for most are to excel at what you do to earn one. Behind each scholarship are criteria to the best, the brightest, the needy, the talented and so on. Added to the mix are those that show promise, are of a certain ethnicity, race or religion, first-generation college students and companies that award them to deserving employees.
The most important thing is to never give up and always strive to be the best that you can be. Don’t assume that you cannot get a scholarship and then stop trying to get one. Contacting organizations and showing interest in a particular scholarship or organization or having a great story to share in your application can also give you more exposure to scholarship opportunities and more.
Believing in yourself and having a CAN DO attitude is what it takes to increase your odds of winning the scholarship game