I have never encountered a college graduate who wishes they had won less scholarships. Almost always, they candidly acknowledge having missed out on applying for scholarships and in hindsight, they would definitely have dedicated more time to applying for them in their high school and college years. I share this experience and foresight with high school clients in hopes that they will prioritize their time to applying for scholarships.
Scholarships not only help reduce the cost of a college education but also provide an additional career advantage. I managed an institutional scholarship program for over ten years and I would like to share some important takeaways:
Apply, Apply, Apply – For years I had witnessed students missing out on numerous scholarship opportunities. They had good intentions of applying but never dedicated the time. I know many colleagues who oversee community scholarships programs and tell me that they consistently have a shortage of applicants each year. High school counselors openly confirm that it is a challenge to get students to apply. I encourage all of my clients to apply, apply, and then apply even more with the understanding that many scholarship opportunities have small applicant pools resulting in greater odds of success. Keep in mind that it is also important to apply for numerous scholarship opportunities to increase the chances of winning one.
Think Locally – While prestigious national scholarships have large award amounts, they also have highly competitive applicant pools. Local scholarship opportunities have greater odds of success as there are less applicants. There are many organizations in our communities that offer scholarships such as a rotary and a chamber of commerce. Local scholarships can be awarded on a relationship basis too. For example, a business, such as dentist, may offer a scholarship to clients. A company may fund a scholarship available only to employees and their families. Professional association chapters that align with a student’s college major can be another source of scholarship possibilities.
Career Launching – One of the biggest changes that I have observed in working with college clients, is that the intense competition for internships begins in their sophomore year. Students who can list scholarship awards in their résumé will have a competitive advantage. Employers frequently recognize the competitive nature of winning a scholarship and will recognize it as an accomplishment. It instantly shows motivation and drive above other applicants. Many scholarships provide an award certificate which can be an important element of a student’s portfolio.
Scholarships have multiple benefits which can never be attained if a student does not apply. One of the objectives of my company scholarship program is to help students realize that applying is not an intimidating process. This confidence will hopefully empower students to apply for additional scholarship opportunities and maximize all of the benefits.