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College Scholarship Search Strategies for the Holidays
Use these smart tips to make holiday break time college scholarship searching and applying time!
Who can blame them?
As much as students deserve a break, however, using this extra time wisely will be a much smarter choice in the long run when it comes to the college scholarship process.
As high school seniors finish and submit college applications and essays, looming in the not-too-distant future is the one thing most of their parents fear the most: The college tuition bill!
Here are 5 tips to help students enjoy their holiday breaks, but at the same time, maximize this time to find and apply for as many college scholarships as they possibly can, easing their parents’ minds and, hopefully, checkbooks.
1. Set aside time each day dedicated to scholarship searching – Parents can help here, partnering with their students to double the number of scholarships that will be found. Encourage siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents to join in the hunt, and hours of college scholarship searching can be condensed into a fraction of that time with so many people helping.
2. Start Local – Check with your own area banks, credit unions, community foundations, churches, club organizations (Elks, Masons, Lions, etc.), parents’ employers, retail stores, hospitals, and small businesses to see if they offer scholarships to students in their area. If they have a website, look for college scholarship opportunities, and if none are found, send them a very polite email asking if they have one. If they don’t have a website, go ahead and call them, making sure the student is the one doing the calling. Local scholarships have less competition, making winning one that much easier for students who apply for them.
You may also like: How to Find More Local Scholarships
3. Sign up for scholarship search websites – such as SMScholarships.com. Make sure you fill out all profiles completely, as this will provide students with more scholarship matches. If a student is unsure of a college major, check each box next to a major that they might consider. This will also bring in more scholarship matches. Find more scholarship-matching and listing websites in this post.
4. Create a detailed list – When making a list of scholarships that a student thinks they qualify to apply for, note exactly what is needed for each application. Include the number of letters of recommendation, word count/subject of the essay, due date, and anything else required, such as high school transcripts and the number of volunteer hours required. This makes it easier to organize scholarships into which month they are due and avoids the common problem of students scrambling to get last-minute letters of recommendation and essay editing from teachers and high school counselors. Use the Scholarship Toolkit Organizer to save SMART. Find it here.
5. Recycle scholarship essays – One outstanding essay can be used for several scholarship applications, saving students a ton of writing time, as I explain in detail here. Carefully adjust word count, if necessary, and make sure at least two pairs of eyes have read the essays for grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. College essays can also be used for scholarship essays, but only if the subject matter is similar. Each essay may need some tweaking to make sure the question is completely answered, but this will take less time than starting from scratch and writing a whole new essay.
Pass along these college scholarship tips to your student!
College is not only expensive, but it is also often thought of as out of reach for many students because their parents do not make enough money to pay for tuition, room, board, books, and all the other fees and expenses associated with higher education.
If a student loan is needed to help pay for college in addition to scholarships and merit money, make sure loan rates are carefully compared using this free tool.
Applying for as many college scholarships as possible is a wonderful way for students to help pay for these expenses before the first tuition bill even arrives. Students who maximize their time and use their holiday breaks wisely will be able to apply for even more scholarships than they thought possible.
The more college scholarships applied for, the better their chances of winning!
What can you do to help a student in the scholarship process during the holiday season?
Monica Matthews is the author of How to Win College Scholarships. She helped her own son win over $100,000 in college scholarships and now shares her expertise with other parents and their students. She truly has “been there, done that” in regard to helping parents and students navigate the scholarship process.
Her method of helping students in finding college scholarships, writing unique and compelling scholarship essays, creating amazing scholarship application packets, and more have taught desperate parents to help their own students win thousands of scholarship dollars. She teaches them how to apply S.M.A.R.T. with outstanding results.
Monica’s scholarship tips have been featured on many prominent websites, and she has been dubbed the “Go-To” expert on college scholarships.