Last year, the Community Foundation and its donors awarded more than $430,000 in scholarships to 225 local high school seniors, currently enrolled undergraduates and other students. As with any application there are forms to fill out and requirements to meet, but all these efforts prove worthwhile when you realize that searching for scholarships is a numbers game.
In the end, each scholarship you apply for increases your chance of receiving an award. That doesn’t make the task any less daunting though. Finding scholarships you are eligible for can be just as challenging as navigating each unique application. So, I have compiled five simple tips that you can do to make your scholarship search more manageable.
- Start your search locally: Many students use national, online search engines to find scholarships, but I recommend starting smaller. Your best bet is to look around Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon for less competitive, local options. Organizations, civic groups and churches you’re involved with may even offer specialized scholarships.
- Create an email for scholarship applications and check it frequently: Scholarship administrators may need to contact you for more information and they will be expecting a prompt, professional response. Now is a good time to replace “hotpinksurferchick17” with a simple combination of your first and last name or initials.
- Catalog scholarships that you may be eligible for in the future: Searching for scholarships is an ongoing process, because you’ll need financial assistance for each year you pursue your degree. Make it easy to navigate by keeping an organized list of scholarships and be sure to include those you might want to revisit later.
- Tailor your essay to each application: All great writers steal from themselves, so it’s a good idea to use previous essays as templates for new ones. However, your chances of receiving financial support will increase dramatically if you tailor your message to the focus of the scholarship. If it’s for nursing students, stay focused on what nursing means to you.
- Show appreciation and gratitude: Applications often ask for letters of recommendation or references. Be sure to ask all your references for their permission and follow-up with a personal thank you to those who help you fulfill the requirements. Bonus points for a handwritten note sent via snail mail.
I wish these steps could guarantee scholarship success, but rising college costs have also increased competition for financial support. So, make sure to excel in class and put in the extra effort after school. Add these five steps to the mix and I assure you that you’ll be more prepared and polished than most of your peers.
For more information on our scholarship program and how to apply, please visit our scholarship page.