After you go through the popular scholarship search engines and read through a bunch of scholarship descriptions, you’re probably wondering, “Where do I start?” The answer to this question depends very much on you and how much time you’re willing to invest in the college scholarship process.

Remember: It is almost guaranteed that the more time and effort you put into finding and applying for scholarships, the more rewards you will get in return.

After you’ve decided how much time you’re going to allot, start selectively going through your scholarship matches. It’s usually best to take out the ones that you feel the least secure about. For example, if there is a scholarship for piano, but the last time you played piano was a couple of years ago, and you haven’t practiced at all since then, you may not be best suited for that scholarship (unless you were a child prodigy like Mozart).

The sports venue is a bit different in this consideration, because it depends greatly on the competition at the school you plan to attend/are attending. This is especially true if you are a “decent” athlete as well as a good student.

Basically, it’s best to play to your strengths, rather than biting off more than you chew and jeopardizing some scholarships that you could have gotten if you’d only spent a little more time working on your application.

Scholarship ChecklistI’ve Picked Some Prospective Scholarships … What Do I Do Next?

At this point, there are a number of different ways to organize the remaining scholarships you’ve decided to work on: One way to prioritize the different applications is to work chronologically – so, tackle the one with the earliest deadline, and then move down the list.

PRO: This strategy is very efficient in getting you through the greatest number of possible scholarships, and keeps you very open to new scholarships.
CON: If you follow the idea too strictly, without enough forethought, it puts you in position to spend an unbalanced amount of time on the various applications.

Another way to prioritize your applications is by aptitude – focus on the ones you’re almost dead certain you can attain, and then work on the other ones when you have the time.

PRO: This method allows you to really capitalize on the things you excel in, and perfect applications that will really showcase your skill(s).
CON: If all of the scholarships you end up working on are fiercely competitive, you may end up lavishing a lot of time on a few applications and getting no return for it.

You’re probably best off using a combination of the two ideas above – or a different system entirely. Everyone works and thinks differently, so it’s just important to find something that works best for you.

Be sure to keep an eye on the scholarships that are geared towards minorities, be it the extremely tall, or those with a last name Zolp – these will have decisively less competition.

Remember: Apply for the easy scholarships.

This includes the scholarships that are just photographs, surveys, or simply raffles. Even if you’re the unluckiest person in the world, it can never hurt to give yourself another possible gateway to free money.

Remember: Get your submission fine-combed by someone you trust.

This would include someone like an English teacher, dance instructor, etc. (depending on the category), if at all possible. Their advice can be absolutely invaluable.

Even asking a couple of friends, or your parents to check through it isn’t a bad idea, to check for flow, comprehensibility, or just little flukes (like “ur” instead of “your”). In writing especially, because we know what we meant to say, we won’t read what we actually wrote.

Fool Proof Way To Scholarships?Is There A Fail-Proof Way To Get Money For College?

Unfortunately, there can never be an absolute, 100% guarantee that you will get a scholarship as the process is far too individualized.

Any number of small things can happen, such as the application getting delayed in the mail a day, a missed typo in the essay, etc. In very serious scholarship competitions, those minor details can make the difference between whether or not you even make it past the first round of review! Moral of the story? Take your time and BE SURE to follow the application procedures exactly as they are outlined.

In any case, the more scholarships you apply for, and the more wholeheartedly you prepare for each scholarship, the more likely you are to have at least some success in this all-important endeavor.

Remember: The individual scholarships may seem small and insignificant at first, but if you stack a number of smaller scholarships together, you’ll still be closing the gap between what you have and what you need. So, NEVER blow off a possible scholarship because the rewards seem miniscule – after all, “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”

If nothing comes out of your applications, or if you have more time and want to take advantage of all your opportunities, go back to the drawing board and start searching again. Hopefully you’ve kept an eye on your matches throughout the application process, so that if an even better match appears than the one you’re working on, you don’t miss a possible lucky break.

Just remember: NEVER pay for a scholarship search service – there are more than enough free services to suffice for all your needs, guaranteed. The free services are just as good, if not better, than the paid services, which regretfully many times are scams.

Also, never cease to talk with family and friends about your scholarship needs – good connections can often lead to surprisingly fortunate consequences. You never know who may be willing to help until you try.

What Next

Be sure to familiarize yourself with as well as FinAid. Both sites are great places to keep up to date on the latest news in government scholarships as well as general financial aid (money for college in the form of scholarships, grants, etc).