We all know that college is expensive, but there are many ways that you can reduce the cost of attendance. Scholarships provide you with the opportunity to gain supplementary funding, but most people underestimate just how many different scholarships are available.
What types of scholarships are most worth pursuing?
The Best Types of Scholarships to Apply For
These are some of the most common and prominent types of scholarships for which you can apply:
- Academic/merit scholarships. Some scholarships are based on your historical academic performance. They may be offered by your high school, the college to which you’re applying, or another organization. The better grades you get, the more likely you are to qualify for this type of scholarship. You may also gain an advantage if you have specific academic achievements to list, such as participating in advanced coursework.
- Athletic scholarships. If you’re especially skilled in a particular sport, you may also qualify for an athletic scholarship. These types of scholarships are common in universities with competitive sports programs. If you want to distinguish yourself, consider pursuing a less popular sport, like rowing. Attending rowing camp, participating in competitions, and getting involved in the rowing community could help you demonstrate enough athleticism to qualify you for a rowing scholarship.
- Extracurricular scholarships. You may also qualify for scholarships based on your extracurricular activities. Participating in clubs and unique activities could open the door to scholarships for your top pick.
- Identity based scholarships. Some scholarships are set aside for people with a specific identity. For example, you may qualify for a scholarship based on your race, ethnicity, gender, or identity as an LGBTQIA+ individual.
- Subject based scholarships. If you demonstrate advanced competence in a particular subject, you may be able to earn a scholarship for it as well. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) scholarships are especially prominent, since many universities are eager to get as many STEM students as possible.
- First generation scholarships. If you’re the first person in your family to go to college, there are some specific “first generation” scholarships that may be relevant to you.
- Religious scholarships. Certain religious organizations also have scholarships for members of their congregations.
- Need-based scholarships. There are plenty of grants, loans, and other special programs available to help people who need financial assistance when going to college. But there are also need-based scholarships, which function slightly differently. If you struggle financially or if you have a learning disability, one of these scholarships may help you go to college.
- Employer scholarships. Certain employers also provide scholarships to employees and their families. Make sure to ask your parents if there are any available through their employers.
- Military scholarships. There are also tons of specific military scholarships that are available to military service members – as well as their spouses and dependents.
Scholarship Application Tips
If you want to maximize your chances of winning a scholarship, follow these application tips:
- Start early. It’s a good idea to start your scholarship hunt and application processes as early as possible. This will give you more time to research the possibilities, more time to write your essay, and greater chances of making the deadline. On top of that, when you have extra time, you’ll be less stressed.
- Broaden your search. Don’t be afraid to broaden the criteria for your search. Search online, but also ask friends, family members, and neighbors for their ideas. Also, don’t exclusively go after the biggest scholarships; small scholarships sometimes have less competition, but they can be extremely helpful when aggregated.
- Always read the requirements. Each scholarship is going to come with specific qualifying criteria and specific instructions for how to apply. Make sure you read these carefully. Even a single mistake could disqualify you if you’re not thorough.
- Focus on your unique differentiators. There are probably lots of students applying for each scholarship you find; in some cases, you may have thousands of competitors. If you want to stand out and maximize your chances of winning the award, focus on what makes you unique.
- Don’t be afraid to brag. Finally, remember that this is a time to brag. It’s your job to show off what makes you an attractive student – and convince reviewers why you deserve this scholarship more than anyone else. You can’t achieve this with excessive modesty.
There are countless scholarships available, covering a wide range of categories and qualifying criteria. No matter what your academic performance has been, no matter who you are, and no matter what your higher education goals are, there will be at least some scholarships that are relevant to you.
Keep digging until you have all the financial support you need.