The Where: If one is willing to put in time, there is absolutely no reason a person cannot find a scholarship. The problem that occurs is that most students believe they have to be spectacular at something: sports, theatre, music or grades. But in reality there are millions of scholarships in every genre. The trick is finding them. First, identify yourself with either wide or narrow approach.
If going big is your thing, start your search on-line. There are multiple web sites that allow students—free of charge—to create a profile that focuses on strengths and goals which then filters the scholarships. For example, if a person claimed they were going to a four-year college with a main interest in environmental science, scholarships would appear garnered for that interest, making the application process easier on the participant. Remember, scholarships are a competitive process based off of qualifications, resumes, and generally an essay or two. But if you put in the work, you’ll be surprised at how well it works out.
If clutter and research is not your thing, go small. First things first, visit your high school guidance counselor. One of their jobs is to know what scholarships are available in the local community and at the state level. From there they should be able to steer you in the right direction. Other places to look for scholarship opportunity are from local churches, your school web site and workplaces. At the town level it is important to keep your eyes and ears open, you never know when a scholarship will appear.
Last but not least: Be aware of scholarships such as the National Merit Scholarship and for Wisconsin citizens, the Kohl scholarship. To win one of these prestigious scholarships is more than financial aid; it’s an honor.
The How: Here are the main two items you will need to be successful: either a list of extracurricular or a resume, and one essay that briefly outlines where you are going (college, tech school, internship apprenticeship), what you are hoping to study or work on, and what you hope to be doing in your future (own a business, graduate school, med school etc.). This essay should be personal, making the applicant readers see you as more than your application. Exemplify the things that make you unique or special and tell them what you are good at. You may need to tailor the essay to certain application specifics, but think of it as a cover letter. You are applying for their money, and they want to make sure that you are not only qualified, but that the money will make an impact in the your future.
Sometimes the application process is quite simple, only requiring the above two items and having the student meet the qualifications of the scholarship. Other times, most often at the state and national level, the requirements expand to written essays and/or portfolios.
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