The most reliable way to ensure that you continue to receive scholarship money for college, regardless of your high school academic record, is to be active in college. Below is a list of suggested activities and how you might financially benefit.
– Independent work with a professor.
Whether you pursue an independent study with a professor in your major or simply assist with his/her research outside of the classroom, working closely with a professor will work to your advantage. You will build a reputation as someone who is active in your department, making you an ideal candidate for a department major. This professor is also likely to serve as an excellent reference for other scholarship applications.
– Pre-professional organizations.
Many professional associations have student branches on campus…and many of the professional chapters offer generous scholarships to their students. If you’re active within your major and you participate in the organization’s activities, you’ll be a strong candidate for these scholarships.
– Honors societies.
Honors societies are teeming with scholarship funds. The largest scholarship sums I received in my own college career were from honors societies. Join them. Be active. Take the initiative to pursue an officer role – the higher the better. While being in an officer position will require more of your time, it’ll be fun…and it’ll pay off.
– Your employer & your parents’ employers.
Many employers also offer scholarships of varying sizes to employees and their children. Many workplaces have programs that are not well publicized, so be proactive and ask. Because the pool of applicants for these are more limited, your chances of being selected for a scholarship increases.
– Places where you do business.
Many businesses offer scholarships to their patrons – retail stores, restaurants, banks, insurance companies, investment firms, etc. Watch for announcements of these scholarships in flyers and postings within the establishment. A word of caution: competition for these scholarships will be stiff!
– University financial aid office.
There are plenty of oddball scholarships that may be available that your financial aid office would likely have information on. Take the time to stop by their office to meet with a representative to determine the best way to stay on top of these.
A final word of advice from someone who funded her last three years of college on various scholarships:
The most important key to being eligible and competitive for these scholarships is to get involved while you’re in college. Don’t get in over your head…but do join a variety of organizations and be an active participant. The benefit of this goes well beyond the scholarships themselves; it’s amazing how far this distinction will take you!