Co-authored by Renae Hintze
So you just moved into your college dorm room and met your room mate for the first time. You’re busy hanging posters on your wall and getting settled in when you hear a knock on the door.
When you open it, there’s an envelope waiting for you… Inside is a check made out to you and a note that reads:
Congratulations, this year you are going to college for free! Here’s $82,732. Buy yourself something nice.
Pretty sweet right??
The thing is, I didn’t make this up. By applying to individual scholarships, I was able to earn over $85,000 towards college.
At Arizona State University today, cappex.com lists total cost of attendance as $20,683 per year. So in fact I actually ended up getting paid to go to college with an extra couple thousand to spend however I wanted!
This could be you.
Find, apply, and get hundreds of scholarships in these 4 steps!!
Step #1: Find Scholarships
So where do I start?
There are a lot of ways to find scholarships. There are also a lot of different KINDS of scholarships. What you want to do is find the scholarships that fit your niche.
What do I mean by niche?
I mean the things that you’re best at, and the things that you’re passionate about. If you’re an incredible athlete, look for scholarships that care about the same things you do — they’re the ones who will understand your passion and want to fund your future success.
4 Tools to find scholarships:
1. Online Scholarship Databases:
- Zinch.com — Write weekly 3-sentence essays for $1,000 a piece!
- Scholarships.com (Saw that one coming!)
- See more scholarship sites: here and here.
2. Local Sources:
- Ask your local library about available scholarships
- Check with any local organizations such as baseball teams and boys and girls clubs (There’s over $22 million available to students involved in FIRST®)
- Check for scholarship postings outside financial aid offices
- Ask your High School counselor about scholarships offered by your school
- Check out what local scholarships are available in your state, and also in your city — many of the online Scholarship search sites will also have a category for local!
DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE the power of local scholarships. They are often easier to get than others. Sometimes you’re one of the only people applying. Click to tweet
I applied to one scholarship that had so few applicants, we all received the award.
3. Personal Connections:
- Ask your parents if a company they work for offers a scholarship
- You can even ask friends or family if they will fund you for writing an essay of their choosing
4. Other Sources:
- Find scholarships in books on Amazon
- Don’t forget about Merit Based Scholarships! Check with any colleges you’re interested in attending to see if they offer any.
Step #2: Plan to Apply
Applying is not a one-step process. As you can see in our blog on writing scholarship essays, you need to work ahead in order to meet your deadlines.
Asana is like the ultimate check-list. It allows you to create projects, tasks, and subtasks, assign due dates, and check off things as you complete them.
In fact, this blog article was written with the help of Asana.
Best of all… it’s FREE!
First thing’s first, create an Asana account.
It’s going to prompt you to create a team name. You can make up your own name, or you can type “Bright Future” for Team Bright Future!
Ok. Now I’m going to show you how you can use Asana to keep track of your scholarships, and meet every deadline.
Check out the green circle button with a “+” at the top of your new account.
Now click it and select “Project”. Here’s how this will work: Since different scholarships require different materials to be submitted, we’re going to organize your Asana Scholarships by type.
Examples of Scholarship Project Titles:
- Academic Scholarships
- Athletic Scholarships
- Creative Scholarships
- Community Service Scholarships
- Writing Scholarships
- Unusual Scholarships
Remember: You want to stay within your niche. If you’re not an athlete, you don’t need a project for athletic scholarships.
Now click into one of your projects. Here is how you manage your individual scholarships.
As you find scholarships, enter them as a task in the project that best describes their required submission material.
So for example, if the scholarship requires an essay, make a task with the scholarship’s title in “Writing Scholarships”.
Here’s an example:
Make sure to assign the task to yourself, and to add the official due date.
Am I finished? Not quite!
If you’re familiar with Student-Tutor, you’ll recall that we’re big on creating SMART goals: Goals that are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-Based.
So what would happen if I asked you to complete a marathon with me tomorrow at 5:00 am? Would you do it?
For the majority of us, completing a marathon is no small task. In fact, it’s pretty intimidating. If you’re not a regular athlete and you get up at 5:00 am to run a marathon, you’re probably not going to have a great time.
Why? Because you didn’t train!
You have to break these big, scary tasks into several smaller, baby-steps. As you complete these small steps over time, you will find yourself getting closer and closer to your main goal, and finally, achieving that goal.
So where can I keep track of all my baby-steps?
The answer is that they’ll be the subtasks of your Scholarship tasks!
Take the final deadline of your scholarship and go back 3 weeks ahead. Break your scholarship down and separate out the steps by assigning due dates in the subtasks that are BEFORE the final deadline.
With all this talk about deadlines, where does the actual scholarship application come in?
Well, you’re going to want to keep track of all your separate applications, AND you want to make sure that even if your computer spontaneously combusts, you’re covered.
So create folders in either a Dropbox account, or in your Google Drive. This way you have access to them where ever you go, and they can’t disappear!
Do the same thing with your folders as you did with your projects in Asana and label them by the type of application your scholarship requires.
Step #3: Prioritize Your Scholarships
This is pretty self-explanatory. Now that you’ve assigned due dates for your baby-steps sometime within the 3 weeks before your scholarship is due, you just need to make sure that you complete them based on which ones are due sooner than others.
Make sure to turn on the email notifications for your account, so you have another reminder to get things done on time!
Step #4: Apply to Your Scholarships
Prompt 1: How will your study of _______ contribute to your immediate or long range career plans?
Prompt 2: Why do you want to be a _______?
Notice anything about these two prompts? If you said they sound similar, you’re right.
You may notice that some, or several of the prompts you receive for scholarships can be almost identical. I’m going to give you a pro-tip that you won’t find in many other places…
You don’t have to write a brand new essay each time. I’m not saying that you should submit the same essay over and over again, because even if the prompt doesn’t change — your audience does.
That’s why you should tailor your essays to fit your audience.
In this Scholarship Essay blog, I show an example of how you might tailor your essay if Nike was offering a scholarship.
Think of a Birthday or Thank You card. Millions of people buy the same card, but the message inside is different for everyone, so the person who receives it still feels special and knows it’s for them.
How to tailor essays to your audience:
- Change your intro and conclusion to address the organization
- Reference the organization within your essay
- Change your essay to meet conversational hooks or buzz words of the organization
- Make sure to thank the organization in the conclusion for offering the scholarship
- Make any necessary format changes to meet the scholarship’s requirements
This will make applications go faster so you can apply to MORE scholarships in SHORTER periods of time.
Eventually, you will build a solid database of scholarship essays that answer the majority of prompts you encounter. You can select essays that meet the prompt and do a few quick edits — BAM! Brand new scholarship!
You can get paid to go to college. All it takes is a little work. If you apply to as many scholarships as you can, and keep your grades and test scores high, you can make way more than $85,000 per year towards college — it’s worth the effort!
Remember to follow these 4 steps:
What great scholarships have you found, and how did you find them? Share with us and other readers in the comments below!