Scholarship Tips for High School Seniors and Future College Freshmen
By Diego Loredo
“If you want to go to college, make sure you apply for tons of scholarships!”
You’ve probably heard it before right? Although it may get annoying, it is no doubt extremely important. Then again, winning scholarships are easier said than done. You may think that you’re not good enough or smart enough, I thought the same thing when I was in high school, but trust me it is possible.
I’ve been in the same position that many high school seniors and aspiring college freshmen may be in right now. “How am I supposed to win scholarships to pay for my college education?” I constantly worried about it during and after school. Eventually, I went to my counselor (shout out to Mrs. Place at UHS!) and asked her how I can apply for scholarships. She provided me with a list of scholarships and told me where I can go to apply for them.
After finding out about all of these scholarships, I applied away. I applied online, applied to the scholarships on the list Mrs. Place gave me, and continued to search for other scholarships. Overall, I applied for over 10 different scholarships. My hard work eventually payed off and I ended up winning three scholarships: the Brazos Education Foundation Scholarship ($4,000), the A.J. Moore Business Advisory Board Scholarship ($1,000), and the Top 10% Scholarship ($600).
The scholarship that helped me the most was the Brazos Education Foundation Scholarship. I won $4,000, the most out of all of my scholarships. The money is renewable for my four years in college, with $3,000 going towards my tuition and fees and $1,000 going towards textbooks. I was also given a mentor who gives me advice and helps me throughout college (shout out to my mentor Phillip Applebaum!).
Words cannot explain how much the Brazos Education Foundation has helped me. They provide useful workshops that help us in certain aspects ranging from study tips to health insurance, host fun events, and are always willing to help me out.
Now you’re probably wondering, “How is this supposed to help me win scholarships?” Well, while applying for these scholarships I made sure I followed these five important guidelines that have helped me and will no doubt help other students looking for scholarships:
Ask your Counselor!
Your counselor will probably be your best source for finding scholarships. If you are ever having trouble at figuring out what to apply for, just head to your counselor’s office and he/she can help you find a good starting point. And not just for scholarships, your counselor will be the main person helping you when preparing for college. For example, your counselor can provide you with a waiver and advice for the SAT, Scholastic Assessment Test, (which is required for most colleges). Whether it’s for scholarships or college prep, your counselor’s office should be the first place to go for help.
Another great source for finding scholarships are right on your computer. There are a ton of great scholarships and grants available online, you just need to know where to look. One great source is www.collegeboard.org. You’ll need to make an account on College Board anyway to register for the SAT. College Board has a great feature where you can search for dozens of scholarships, which shows information on what the scholarship is, whether or not you qualify for it, and how to apply. College Board is also a great place to help you prepare for college. College Planning, a feature on College Board, can help you explore what kind of career you want to pursue, search for colleges, and provide information on the cost of attending college.
I cannot stress this enough. Making the right connections can help you increase your chances to win scholarships. Become well acquainted with your counselor, do internships, and get to know those who are providing scholarships. Doing this helped me win the Brazos Education Foundation Scholarship. I did an internship for them the summer before my senior year. This helped me because I already knew them when I was interviewed and it also helped them since they already knew who I was.
Practice writing essays!
This may seem boring but it is necessary. Most scholarships will require an essay or two along with the application. The essays in the application become a big factor in the selection process. Let me say that again, it is a HUGE factor in selecting who will receive the scholarship. English was my strongest subject and I loved writing essays so it was easy for me to write them. It was also one of the main reasons why I won the Brazos Education Foundation Scholarship.
Apply, apply, apply!
Apply to as many scholarships as you can. Here, enough is never enough. I applied for 10+ scholarships and won three. That may not seem like much but, along with financial aid, those scholarships are paying for my college expenses. You should aim for 5-10 scholarships, and more if you can. Trust me on this, you need to apply to as much as you can to increase your chances of winning.
Applying for scholarships is not easy. It takes a lot of persistence. You must be prepared to write essays, have interviews, and getting good grades doesn’t hurt either. But it is possible to win scholarships if you do the right things. These guidelines that I provided cannot guarantee that you will win a scholarship, but it will help. Even after winning scholarships, don’t stop there. Continue to search for some during college. There are a countless amount of scholarships and grants available to college students. I did that and managed to get into a program that pays for my college tuition. If you have the right resources, you will be more than prepared to apply for scholarships and find ways to pay for college. You can do it!
Diego Loredo is a sophomore at the University of North Texas. He is majoring in public relations. He graduated from University High School in 2014. Although he is still not quite sure what exactly he wants to do, he thinks he wants to work somewhere in sports PR (preferably soccer or college football). His hobbies include playing soccer and golf. He is 19 years old.
The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.