Let’s take a moment to sit back and give thanks for the Internet. Before the availability of scholarship search engines, students were required to scour scholarship listings one by one, looking for opportunities. Today, the job of seeking scholarships is still a great deal of work but still so much simpler than in the not-so-distant past.
The best source of scholarship opportunities is the Internet, through a variety of scholarship directory sites. We have described some of the most popular sites in this chapter. Go through the search process on four or five Web sites. Then make a combined list of scholarships. (Be sure to note which engine identified each scholarship.)
Scholarship Web Sites
This is a great site with lots of information available as well as a search function called FastWeb. FastWeb requires (free) registration and development of a profile. The site offers a number of advantages, such as a tracker that reminds you when scholarships you are eligible for are due. The site also provides an e-mail notification service when jobs come up in your local area.
The major drawback of this site is the level of commercialism associated with navigation. When you click on a scholarship offering, pop-up windows sometimes appear. You must click off the advertisements to get to the information you are seeking. We didn’t find the commercial aspect distracting enough to make the site not useful. Some of the scholarship opportunities that came up in our search include the Standout Student Scholarship ($500), the College JumpStart Scholarship ($1500), and the Youth Foundation Scholarship ($4000).
The Peterson’s site is sponsored by Thomson Publications, a major publisher of educational materials. There is a strong grants search engine that you must register (for free) to use. Not all of our results were possibilities, but in each case, it was reasonably clear why the scholarship was on the list.
Our personal favorite scholarship from this search is one titled Stuck at the Prom sponsored by the Duck brand duct tape company. The contest is open to residents of the United States and Canada. You must be fourteen years or older and attend a high school prom in the spring. Participants must adorn themselves in stylishly “sticky” fashions made from duct tape. You must enter as a couple. There are three awards available, ranging from $1,000 to $3,000.
This very popular Web site has a strong search engine that contains an excellent representation of scholarships. However, one of the best reasons to use this site is the tremendous amount of resource information written by the site founder, Laura DiFiore. Ms. DiFiore has had a lot of experience as a judge, and she provides marvelous insight into the process.
This interesting site offers a free search of scholarship opportunities after registration and profile development. The search results include the value of the scholarship, the due date, and a rank in relevance to your situation, as well as a way to select offerings as “favorites.”
Our profile matched with a Got Milk? scholarship of $7,500 sponsored by American’s Milk Processors and USA Today. The scholarship is based on academic excellence, athletic performance, leadership, community service, and the Milk Experience essay submitted with the original online application. The essay question is: “Describe how milk has been a part of your life.”
This site, sponsored by the Princeton Review, provides a free search engine (registration and profile required). Our last test returned the highest number of responses, 383, to our student profile, but many turned out to be non-relevant, and it was unclear how our profile had been matched to them. However, the site is currently under construction and a newly designed search engine will be unveiled in the near future.
There are many excellent compendiums of scholarship information available in bookstores. You may not be inclined to purchase one of these books, preferring to conduct your search online, but we suggest you either purchase a good, comprehensive resource or locate a resource in your school or local library that you can use. Why? Even though search engines are excellent, they are inherently limited by the search words that are used. There’s great value in systematically or even casually looking through printed listings for scholarships that the search engines might not have picked up on your behalf.
Guidance Office Postings
Your high school guidance office will get dozens of postings for scholarships throughout the year. They will be posted on a bulletin board or available in a binder in the office. This is a great place to look for local scholarships that may not have been picked up by the major directories.
Search your local newspapers archives for scholarship announcements and awards.
Web Search Engines
Use your personal assessment form as a guide to doing Internet searches, such as “chess and scholarships.”
Warning! Finding Opportunities Is Time-Consuming!
Plan to spend at least fifty to sixty hours searching the Web, entering profiles into databases, reading scholarship directories, and searching newspaper archives. There’s really no way around this time commitment. Each of these sources of scholarships is very good, but if you want to be comprehensive, use many techniques for identifying scholarships.
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