Strategies for Finding and Applying to Scholarship Programs 

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Attending college can be an exciting next step in your life, but it can also be expensive. Scholarships can help you attend college at low or no cost, but the application process can initially seem daunting. Here are suggestions for where to begin your search and tips for putting together your application.

The college or university you will attend is a fantastic starting point for your search. Your school’s financial aid portal offers a convenient hub for all of the aid your school has to offer. Take time to sift through all the scholarships and list the programs for which you qualify. Some scholarships are available to all students, whereas others are restricted to specific departments, majors, or other subsets of students.

You may be able to find scholarships for students with disabilities through your school or local community. Your school’s disability resource office may be able to connect you to scholarships for students with disabilities. Similarly, you should check your city and state disability offices for any programs they may offer.

Additionally, take advantage of opportunities offered by consumer organizations like the American Council of the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind. Both organizations provide statewide and national scholarships each year.

Finally, if you are working, you may also consider your workplace. Some employers include tuition reimbursement or other educational benefits that may reduce your cost of attendance.

While this is not an exhaustive list, it should help you start your scholarship search.

Tips for your application

When you find a scholarship you want to apply for, carefully review the requirements and compile your application. Creating a folder for all your scholarship-related documents, like transcripts and letters of recommendation, may be helpful if you are applying for multiple scholarships.

Speaking of recommendations, make sure to leverage your academic and professional connections. Some ideas for recommenders include former instructors, colleagues, or your manager. Ensure your recommender knows you well enough to provide a robust and detailed recommendation. Also, the letter should not be addressed to a specific scholarship program.

Scholarship essays

It is common for a scholarship to request an essay as part of the application process. Be sure to review what topic(s) you are asked to cover in the essay. Your answer to the essay question should be tailored specifically to what they want to know about you or why you qualify for the scholarship. You may wish to develop an outline or list of bullet points to be expanded on in your essay.

Additional areas to consider

Do you have any academic or professional achievements? You may also draw on any extracurricular or volunteer experiences you have. Finally, if you are blind or have low vision, you may incorporate that into your essay.

While writing your essay, it’s critical not to understate your achievements. Your essay is your chance to sell yourself as the best candidate for the scholarship. Being humble about your work won’t help.

Scholarship interview

Many scholarships will interview their top candidates for a scholarship. Before the interview, review the guidelines for the scholarship. Review your essay. Think of any questions you may have for the interviewer. Dress professionally and ensure the area around you in a virtual interview is clean and presentable.

The sting of not receiving a scholarship

You may be rejected for a scholarship you applied for. This is especially true for competitive statewide or national scholarships. While this is disappointing, it does not reflect your character or academic skills. If you are invited to apply again next year, take advantage of the opportunity. You may be denied one year and then awarded a scholarship the next year.

Finally, remember to stay positive and keep applying. The scholarship application process can sometimes feel tedious, but you will thank yourself when you can focus on your education instead of worrying about how you’ll afford it.