Mapping Your Future: The where and how of a successful scholarship search



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The where and how of a successful scholarship search

By Cathy Mueller

November 15, 2021

If you are looking for scholarships to help you play for college, there are a lot available. So much so, that a scholarship search can be overwhelming. For example, an Internet search on the word “scholarship” brings us more than 8 billion results. Yes, that is 8 billion!

So, in addition to knowing where to look, you need to know how to look for scholarships. To make your search more meaningful, you’ll need to be strategic. You will want to look at the following sources of scholarships but align the search to your characteristics and to your college and career goals:

  • The counselor’s office. Your high school counselor has information on a lot of scholarships, especially information about local scholarships. You want to make sure to include local scholarships in your search because you’ll easily meet one of the eligibility criteria, which is that you are living and attending high school in the community.
  • The school or college you plan to attend. Visit the website of any school or college you are considering attending and you’ll likely find a list of scholarships on the financial aid office page. These scholarships are targeted to students planning to attend that institution. Even if you aren’t sure what school or college you plan to attend, apply for any scholarships for which you meet the eligibility requirements. If you are awarded a scholarship for a school or college that you decide not to attend, you just won’t receive the funds.
  • Employers. Many companies offer scholarships to their employees and to children of employees. The basic requirement is that you be an employee or a child of an employee. If you have a part-time job, be sure to check with your employer or with the employer of your parent or guardian for any scholarship programs.
  • Trade associations, professional organizations, or companies. These organizations have an interest in helping students enter the career field they represent. Be sure to research local, regional, and national organizations that represent your career interests and determine if you could apply for scholarships to help you reach your goal.
  • Scholarship search engines. The free scholarship search engines available on the Internet have millions of scholarships in their databases. The key is to carefully complete your profile, so you only get those scholarships that apply to you. If you don’t, it might get a little overwhelming. Also, make sure the search engine is legitimate and never enter personal information, such as a social security number or driver's license number. If you receive a scholarship, you may be asked for that information, but it should not be needed to register with the search engine.

Being strategic in your scholarship search can save you a lot of time, and you increase your chances of receiving a scholarship if you apply to only those opportunities that fit your characteristics or align with your college and career goals.