hope to get scholarships for college, the truth is that most students don’t actually apply for them. Even among those who do, most students search for the easy “no essay” scholarships. Because let’s face it – with everything else going on, it’s hard to find the time and energy to submit scholarship applications and write those scholarship essays. This is especially true for those of you who are applying to colleges right now. You’re probably up to your ears in college admission application essays already! But scholarships are definitely worth pursuing, as you could potentially save thousands of dollars in student loans. So here’s a better idea: Rather than missing out on scholarship opportunities, try some of these shortcuts and strategies for earning scholarships:

Essay writing strategies:

Leverage what you’ve already written.

If you are currently applying to college, re-purpose your college application essays for your scholarship applications. You might be surprised to discover that many scholarship opportunities ask for essays that are similar to what you may have already written in your personal statement and/or in your response to a CommonApp essay question. By using one of your college application essays as a starting point for scholarship essays, you’ll significantly shorten the amount of time needed to apply for scholarships.

Apply to scholarships that have similar essay prompts.

Rather than leveraging what you’ve already written just once, why not do so over and over again?? There are MANY scholarships that have a similar essay question, such as “Tell us about your academic and career goals.” Or, “tell us about a challenge you encountered, and how you overcame it.” Some scholarship providers will ask that you write your response in 500 words or less, while others will ask for a 250 word maximum or 1000 word maximum, etc. If you start with your 500 word essay, you can then either add details or trim it down to get alternate word counts on that essay. Now you have several versions of the same essay, and you can look for scholarships that have similar prompts, enabling you to submit several scholarship applications quickly.

Apply to scholarships with challenging essay prompts.

If you are hoping to apply to scholarships with less competition, one of the best ways to do that is to apply to scholarships with a unique or odd essay prompt. This is because a lot of students will skip over the scholarships that require a bit more time and effort. You could join them and skip these scholarships too, but if you do, you’ll miss out on applying for scholarships that you are more likely to earn. So when you have a bit more time, do apply to some of these scholarships that require a bit more effort. It will be well-worth it!

Apply to all types of scholarships:

Apply to local scholarships in your community.

High schools and colleges typically have a list of scholarships offered by organizations and businesses in the local community. Ask your guidance counselor / academic advisor about these scholarships, and make sure you apply to them. Local scholarships are often only offered to local residents, so your chances of earning these scholarships are higher than scholarships with a broader audience.

Be sure to apply to university scholarships.

All too often, students assume that colleges automatically consider them for scholarships, simply because they applied for admission. While this is true of some colleges, many have a completely separate scholarship application process. In addition, sometimes your major department also offers scholarships, and you’ll need to apply to them separately from the standard university scholarships. So be sure to contact the scholarship office at each college you are applying to so that you can ask for details about their scholarship application process. And contact your major department as well to ask the same question.

Apply to private scholarships.

Millions of scholarship dollars are available every year from companies and organizations located across the United States. You can find these private scholarships by searching online, or by using one of a myriad of scholarship websites that list these opportunities.

Apply to scholarships large and small.

It can be tempting to focus on applying for only the high-dollar-value scholarships, but of course, all students are attracted to a large dollar amount, and the competition is much greater. So be sure to apply to a mix of small, medium and high-dollar scholarships to maximize your opportunities.

Don’t wait. Apply year-round:

Earn scholarships now, rather than waiting.

Millions of students don’t bother applying to scholarships until January or even later. But if you wait, you’ll miss out on the thousands of scholarships that have a deadline PRIOR to January. Even better, if you apply now rather than waiting, you’ll find less competition for all of the scholarships that are open and waiting for applicants! You’re chances of earning a scholarship increase exponentially simply by not waiting until the scholarship “high season.”

Apply to scholarships year-round, every year until you are finished with college.

When students do apply for scholarships, they often do so only as a high school senior. But there are scholarships available for current college students as well as students in graduate programs. Be sure to apply every year, and spread out your applications throughout the year. This will make the process more manageable, and will increase your likelihood of earning scholarships every year. Also, it is important to remember that some university scholarships may be offered only to freshmen as a one-time-only recruitment incentive. So you may not receive the same level of university scholarships in subsequent years.

Take Advantage of Technology Tools:

Don’t go it alone – access online scholarship strategy tools that streamline the process.

There are several websites that offer tools and resources that can make it easier to apply for scholarships. For example, ScholarshipOwl is a one-stop platform that enables you to complete the entire scholarship search, match and application process all in one place. This makes it faster and easier to try our shortcuts and strategies for earning scholarships.

Final Thoughts:

We’ve all heard those amazing success stories about students who have earned thousands of dollars in scholarships. You’ve probably wondered,”How did they get so lucky?” But that is the wrong question. Those who receive scholarships aren’t just lucky. They put in time and effort. They applied to scholarships year-round, rather than just one or two months out of the year. These students “diversified,” applying to scholarships large and small. They used tools and strategies to give them an edge. Most importantly – they simply applied. Because only those who apply have any chance at all of earning scholarships. So take heed, and don’t miss out on your opportunity to use our shortcuts and strategies for earning scholarships to earn scholarship dollars for yourself!

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