So, not to sound like an infomercial, but have you heard about Scholly?
Scholly is an app created by Christopher Gray and a team of friends to help students find scholarships. If you haven’t heard my passionate plea to pursue scholarships, you should pause right now and read The Only Way to Pay for College. I don’t post scholarship opportunities on this blog for one simple reason – they change all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. So what might be a great link this month might be dead by August. I want this blog to be a good resource for the long haul, so I don’t put content out that I think might become quickly dated.
But Scholly offers an updated database of current scholarships so you don’t have to do what Christopher did (spending hours at the public library looking up scholarships). You just create a profile and Scholly helps you find scholarships suited to you! Not to mention reminding you when there are deadlines coming up and encouraging you to share with your friends by offering you chances to win scholarships from the company that created Scholly.
There was a catch, but thanks to a very generous donation, the app is now free to all users!
Big Fish, Small Pond
Your goal in looking for scholarships should be to be the big fish that all those generous people are trying to hook. The best way to do this, of course, is to have a stellar GPA and an interesting life story. However, not all of us are blessed with the resources necessary to have a great GPA, remarkable resume, and all the rest, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. Here are a few other things to consider when you’re sniffing out scholarships to apply for:
- Be Yourself (with a little spit-shine): Letting your personality, goals, and life story shine through is a big part of being successful in your scholarship hunt. Storytelling is an art and having someone help you determine what parts of your story are most relevant to the audience (scholarship selection committee) you are trying to reach. Some schools have scholarship coordinators that offer to help students perfect their essays and other application materials (like me!) others don’t and that may require you to get creative. The key is to make sure the people helping you are willing to be totally honest about what you should cut and what you should include. No one wants to wade through boring or irrelevant or poorly written details. Have an extra set of eyes check to make sure your writing is good quality – in content, organization, and structure.
- Look local first: Being a big fish in a small pond is really hard if you’re only looking at big ponds (or lakes or oceans!) – start out by looking at local scholarships through community organizations, businesses, and employers (yours, your parents’, community employers); your school; any religious organizations you might be affiliated with; local groups like the Rotary Club, Kiwanis, Lions, etc. These local groups often have less applicants, making you a bigger fish. That’s not to say you should ignore bigger competitions, but starting local increases the chance that you’ll see some return on the time you’re investing in this process.
- Don’t Give Up: Even if you’re not in that golden zone of being a high school senior or college freshman, keep your nose to the grindstone and find those applications that are for students already in school. Many colleges offer scholarships to their own students who are already enrolled. Sometimes alumni organizations offer service or academic scholarships, departments might offer competitions with scholarship prizes. There is really no end to the possibilities as long as you are willing to look!
A Few More Resources
If you feel like you’ve run out of options, you can always use big search engines like Scholarships.com and fastweb.com – both of which are free databases where you create a profile and they search their contents for scholarships that might be relevant to you. Typically you have to do quite a bit more screening with these sites, but they can be helpful.
Last but not least, never ever pay to apply for a scholarship. The whole goal of looking and applying is to augment your bank account – not drain it – so don’t get suckered into paying for something that shouldn’t cost you anything.