What future college students should know about winning scholarships

**The Edvocate is pleased to publish guest posts as way to fuel important conversations surrounding P-20 education in America. The opinions contained within guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of The Edvocate or Dr. Matthew Lynch.**

A guest post by Brooke Chaplan

Scholarship searches aren’t for the faint of heart, but if you put in the effort, your searches can often pay off. Financial aid experts know that people who start searching for scholarships early stand the best chance of getting the most money for their schooling. There are also scholarships available for people who want to attend online colleges to get a degree, study particular fields, or have the right background. The trick to winning scholarships is to find the ones that match your skills and personal situation when applying.

Start Early… Really Early

If you’ve waited for your senior year to find scholarships, chances are you’ve waited too long. Many scholarships are available for those in their freshman, sophomore, and junior years in high school. These scholarships require an early application, and if you don’t apply at the right time, you’ll miss the deadlines. Scholarships are even available for pre-high school students from Kindergarten to eighth grade. You can get started as early as you want and have time to apply and prepare each one.

Sign Up For Alerts

There are several online scholarship databases you can sign up for to receive alerts. Create a special email for all your scholarship applications, and set up searches on various scholarship search websites to get notified of new scholarships. Apply as soon as possible, and keep track of every scholarship you apply for.

Go For Easy Prey

Don’t just sign up for the biggest scholarships. Look for essay contests and other small awards. These offerings can add up to a substantial amount once you enter college, and the extra time spent honing your writing skills will help to prepare you for college. Smaller contests can often be easier to win and generally are based on the quality of your submission.

Pay Attention to the Sponsor

Sponsors are looking for people who represent their goals and values. Make sure you carefully read all the regulations and find out some basic background about the scholarship before applying.  You might be just who they are looking for, or it could be really off-base for your situation.

Control Your Social Presence

If you already have a social media presence, see what types of information can be determined about you by looking online. Make an attempt to remove any information you don’t want a scholarship search committee to see. While you can clean up the content of most of your social media accounts, keep in mind some information may last a long time on the Internet. Be prepared to explain anything in a potential interview.

Colleges often offer discounts for students who enroll in online classes, like these online Rutgers programs. There are also special awards for people who wish to study completely online. Be open and look for any opportunity you are qualified for. Apply to as many opportunities as possible for the greatest chance of success.

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

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