This is part of our monthly series 'Mission: Accepted,' in partnership with Minds Matter, which chronicles the lives of four students as they apply for college in their senior year.
Now that college applications are over, it is time to start looking for a way to pay for my education. That's right, I'm talking about scholarships. There are many types of scholarships, from the merit-based ones that come directly from colleges, to local or nationwide scholarships given out by different organizations (like the Gates Millennium Scholars Program), to unique/weird scholarships you probably didn't even know existed (like the Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest)! It can be very difficult to figure out where to start, but here are some tips to get you started.
1. Use the web to find scholarships.
There are a lot of scholarship websites out there, and your college counselor can probably recommend some good ones. Mine told me about FastWeb and scholarships.com. Of course, you can also look for others on your own. Searching on Google, I found College Prowler, which has been extremely helpful. It gives you suggestions for scholarships you might be interested in and also lets you talk to other students who are applying to the same schools as you. All of these websites have been very useful to me because each one offers something different. College Prowler and FastWeb supply answers to questions you may have about specific schools while also with providing scholarship suggestions; scholarships.com is all about scholarships. I mostly use College Prowler, maybe because it is the first website I found--plus, it has a No Essay Scholarship, which I love!
2. After you submit your college applications, check the schools' websites for scholarship opportunities.
Even though this one is kind of obvious, some of the first places to look for scholarships are the websites of the colleges to which you've applied. Loyola University in Chicago gave me a merit scholarship for maintaining a 3.0 GPA over four years of high school, but I also discovered other scholarship opportunities--like a full scholarship for Cristo Rey students (that's my high school)--by checking the Loyola's site.
3. Search for scholarships both locally and nationally.
There are scholarships everywhere; some are nationwide and others are specific to your area. Your college counselor is a great person to ask about local scholarships. In Chicago, where I go to school, there are several scholarships just for students living in the city, like the Fiesta del Sol Scholarship and The Chicago Area Mensa Scholarship. There are also a ton of national scholarships, such as the Burger King Scholarship and the Kohl's Kids Who Care Scholarship Program.
4. There are scholarships for things you didn't even think existed!
Every person is different, which means that we can't all apply to the same scholarships. Doing a Google search can help you find ones that fit exactly who you are. One of my friends always complains about being 4'9", but then she found a scholarship for people who are under 5 feet! There are also many strange scholarships, such as the one sponsored by Duck Tape for the prom couple that creates the best promwear out of duct tape, or the one for student-athletes for having the best milk mustache (among other requirements). So far, I have not found a kooky scholarship for myself, but I'm still looking!
Well, guys, hope these tips help you on your search for scholarships. Good luck!