The Skinny on Scholarships - by Chloe

As the daughter of a high school guidance counselor, I became very well-versed in the language of scholarships during my senior year. I remember Christmas Break as the weeks of scholarships last year. I hated filling them out, but I learned a few things along the way, so here are a few tips for those of you who are feeling the pressure.

  1. Pick similar scholarships: A lot of scholarships use very generic essay prompts, so REUSE YOUR ESSAYS!! Find 5 or 6 scholarships with similar essay questions and then right one all-inclusive essay that will work for all of them! It is a huge time saver.
  2. Ask to use a type-writer: Most scholarships can be filled out online or on a computer now, but some still come in paper form and require you to fill them in by hand. Neatness definitely counts when it comes to scholarships, so if you come across a hand-written form ask the guidance department if they have a typewriter you can use. (There are some essays that require the essay to be handwritten. DO NOT use a typewriter for those. This is more referring to the simple questions on the application.) DO NOT FILL THEM OUT IN PENCIL. EVER.
  3. No scholarship is not worth your time: APPLY APPLY APPLY!!!!!!! It’s FREE Money!!!!
  4. Sometimes one more shot at the SAT/ACT is worth it: I took the SAT one more time my senior year and got the last 20 points that I needed to get $1,000 more a year from my school! If you are within 50 points on the SAT or 3 points on the ACT, take the chance.  It could be worth $4,000+!!
  5. Go Local: I got several smaller scholarships from local clubs and organizations because they knew me! The committee knew my character and that helped my chances. There were also fewer applications for those local scholarships because they were not worth as much! They were definitely worth my time!
  6. Go Random: Did you know that KFC has a scholarship?  So does McDonalds and Coca-Cola! There are scholarships for people with green eyes, people of Irish descent, vegetarians, middle-children, and only children! People never think to apply for the random scholarships, so the application pool is much smaller!
  7. Double and Triple Check EVERYTHING: I cannot stress enough how important it is to fill in the applications completely. Even missing one question can eliminate your application. Grammar and spelling are also very important, so having someone else read your essays and short answer questions is a good choice.

Scholarships are time consuming and monotonous, but totally worth it.  Make the effort. You will never be paid hundreds of dollars per hour ever again! You will never regret having a smaller tuition bill or loan debt.

Chloe McLaughlin is a college freshman at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana majoring in Church Music and Christian Worship. Originally from Frankfort, Indiana, Chloe was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Indiana for 2012. Learn more about Chloe here!