College is seriously
expensive. And you have to pay for it
somehow. My advice is to try author Kelly
Tanabe's way of paying for college:
Scholarships--free money that you don't have to pay
back. Kelly won enough scholarships to leave Harvard
debt-free. Debt-free?!? Trust me. She knew what she
was doing. I left college and graduate school buried
under major debt. I truly thought you had to be the
class valedictorian to get a scholarship so I didn't
bother trying. Since I am no role model for this
one, I will get out of the way and let Kelly tell
you what to do:
costing as much as $30,000 per year, it is no
surprise that you and your parents might be
feeling the pressure.
So does that mean you should sacrifice your
dream college and just go to the cheapest
school? Absolutely not! There is another way
that an enterprising girl can pay for college,
and it doesn't involve asking, "Do you want
fries with that order?"
The answer is scholarships, and there are
millions of dollars out there waiting to be
won. But it takes work to get your share of
this scholarship pie. Here are four steps to
winning scholarships and earning the life long
gratitude of your parents.
Step 1: Lose the "I don't
have good grades" excuse for not applying.
One of the biggest myths about scholarships is that
they only go to the valedictorians.
The truth is the vast majority of awards are based
on much more than your grades. While most awards
have a minimum GPA to enter, it is often low enough
for most students to qualify. When it comes to
choosing a winner, scholarship judges won't care
that you got a "C" in Physics. What matters is that
you show why you deserve to win.
being younger than a senior is also not a valid
excuse. There are plenty of awards for
underclasswomen such as these:
[UL]Imation Computer Arts Scholarship (www.imation.com)
National History Day Contest (www.thehistorynet.com)
National High School Oratorical Contest (www.legion.org)
Discover Card Tribute Award Scholarship (www.aasa.org/discover.htm)
Ayn Rand Essay Contests (www.aynrand.org)
Optimist International Essay Contest (www.optimist.org)[/UL]
Now is the best time to get in on the action.
Find scholarships in your
So you've decided that you want to win some free
cash for college. Next, you need to do some
detective work to find awards. When looking for
scholarships, most students immediately turn to the
Internet or directories of national awards. However,
some of the best scholarships are in your backyard:
Before you do anything else, make an appointment
with your college guidance counselor. This person
knows all about local scholarships given to students
at your school. Next, think about all of the clubs
and activities that you are in and find out whether
they offer awards to members. Don't just limit
yourself to what's on campus. Look at local
businesses, service organizations, politicians, and
churches. Often these groups give awards to students
in the community. Open the phone book and call some.
Finally, have your parents ask their employers,
unions, and organizations to which they belong about
Once you have exhausted your community, take a look
at the scholarship directories found in bookstores
and libraries, as well as the free databases on the
Internet. Use as many resources as you can to search
for scholarships since you never know where you
might find one that fits you.
Scholarships have been found on credit card bills,
on television, and even on candy bar wrappers!
Beware! In your zeal to find awards, avoid paying
for services that charge to find awards. Often they
give you nothing better than what you can find for
free. To get you started, here are some of the best
free scholarship databases on the Internet:
Step 3: Show the judges why
you deserve to win.
Imagine that you are a successful businesswoman who
belongs to an organization that supports women in
business. One way your group achieves this goal is
by offering a scholarship. You sit on the judging
committee and must sift through a mountain of
applications. How do you decide who gets your money?
Easy. You look for the applicant who demonstrates an
interest in business and women's issues and who has
the most promise for the future. In other words you
want someone who is just like you--only 20 years
Back to reality. Once you understand this, you know
what you need to do to win. If you were applying for
this award, you would highlight in your application
your desire to major in business, your work
experience, or your dedication to women's issues. On
the other hand, if you were applying for an award
based on service, you would highlight your community
service or volunteer work.
The key to winning is to learn who the scholarship
organization wants to give its money to (Big Hint:
The organization usually spells it out in plain
English on the application!), and then make sure
that every piece of your application--application
form, essay, interview, letters of
recommendation--shows them why you deserve to win.
Step 4: Don't leave money
on the table when you apply to college.
Nearly every college gives money to incoming
students. The good news is that you often don't need
to do anything special to apply. You will
automatically be considered for scholarships with
your college admission application. Many colleges
offer full-tuition scholarships based on your
college application. Check out the Web sites of the
colleges that you are interested in to see what
scholarships are available. Or contact the financial
aid office directly to ask. The key is to focus on
your admission application.
A well-crafted application can make the difference
between getting accepted--and getting accepted with
Lastly, it is true that many more students apply
for awards than win. It takes time to put together a
powerful application. But if you do spend the time
on finding awards and applying for them, you can
Still don't think it's possible? For one of the
books that I wrote, I spoke with students who were
fanatical about applying for scholarships. Sure, it
meant less time to spend with friends, but they won
tens of thousands of dollars to pay for college. One
student won over $1 million in scholarships! You
have to remember that somebody is going to win these
awards, and it might as well be you.
Get Into the College of Your Choice