Special Offer for Blog Subscribers

Special Offer GiftI’ve been blogging on Scholarship Opportunity for three years now. And, honestly, there have been times where it felt as if I’m just writing for myself and Google. But over the last few months, I’m seeing new blog subscribers almost every day and it’s thrilling to know you’re reading and learning more about scholarships. Honestly, there’s no better feeling than helping people like you find and win scholarships! When you reach out to me about a post, or our books or classes, it really lights up my day.

To celebrate and express my gratitude, I am offering Scholarship Opportunity blog subscribers a 50% discount off our “How to Find and Win Scholarships” class. The class meets every Wednesday by Skype for 1 hour and runs for 8 weeks. By having our class via Skype, you don’t need to travel for the class but can learn from the comfort of your own home.

For $300 (about the same price as 2 college textbooks), you’ll develop the skills to:

  • Find genuine scholarships
  • Conduct searches to yield high-value results to save time wading through long lists of irrelevant “matches”
  • Utilize the power of social media to find and win scholarships
  • Identify and reach out to real-life scholarship resources
  • Launch your own scholarship “start-up” and run it as your own small business
  • Find free and valuable online resources such as blogs and podcasts
  • Save time by knowing the best (and worst) scholarship search engines, web portals, and mobile apps
  • Recognize and avoid scams and dead-end contests
  • Become a scholarship and financial aid lingo guru (especially helpful when you sign documents or negotiate with the Financial Aid Office)

You’ll also receive a free copy of our How to Find & Win Scholarships book. Together, we’ll follow the proven methods in this book to successfully launch your scholarship start-up business!

Class size is limited to 6 students so if you’re interested, send me an email. Once I confirm you’re a subscriber, I’ll send you a link with a discount code for 50% off the regular $600 price. Act now because this offer ends when the class is filled.

Use a Team to Boost Your Scholarship Results

TeamSuccessful entrepreneurs never go it alone. They build a team to help them achieve their company’s vision and mission. As a scholarship hunter, your vision is to graduate from college debt-free. Your mission is to win scholarships. The bigger your team is, the faster and easier you’ll achieve both. As the old saying goes, “Many hands make light work.”

Start by creating a Scholarship Team of people who can help. You’ll need to collect email, phone numbers, and mailing addresses for people you want on your team. Begin with those closest to you and work your way out.

People you’ll REACH out to include:

Relatives—Parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins

Employers—People you have worked with during summer jobs, internships, or where you have volunteered for community service

Advisors—Guidance Counselors in high school, trusted family friends, mentors, tutors

College—Faculty, Academic Advisors, Admissions Officers, Deans and their Administrative Assistants, Financial Aid Office staff, Residential Life Supervisor, Campus Activities Office for clubs and organizations you belong to or plan to join

High School—Favorite teachers, coaches, Principal, Vice Principal

Begin by writing a short-but-sweet email explaining your vision and mission and asking for their help. Be sure to send the email from your new scholarship email address (You’ve set one up, right?). When they respond, they’ll automatically be added to your contact list. Start with your relatives and customize each email with their name and tweak the text. Here’s an example:

To: Mom & Dad

I’m grateful to have had your support over the years. You’ve helped me tremendously as I moved toward attending college. Now it’s my turn to support you. I don’t want to burden you with the cost of my college education. I’m dedicating myself to finding and applying for scholarships to ease the financial stress you must be feeling. I am devoting ## hours a week to research and apply for scholarships for <insert your school, major, and keywords from your list>. I’ve started by creating a scholarship portfolio of all the documents I’ll need to apply. That’s the easy part.

The challenge is to find scholarships where I meet the eligibility requirements. And that’s where I still really need your help. Would you email me any links to scholarships you find? Can you email your friends to let them know I’m looking for scholarships too? Do you know if your employers offer scholarships for children of their employees? Do you belong to any professional organizations or unions that also offer scholarships?

Thanks for being a part of my Scholarship Team and helping me achieve my dream of graduating from college debt-free!

You can modify this email and send it to other relatives, your employers, advisors, college and high school contacts. Remember, you want to state your mission and vision because these are admirable goals that not only impress people, but make them WANT to help. Remember to send thank you emails when people reach out to help you. Responding lets them know you received their email and appreciate their support and scholarship links. This encourages them to continue sending your leads.

Many scholarship committees require up to 3 letters of recommendation. If you’re in need of recommendation letters, the people on your Scholarship Team can help (except for your relatives). Your employers, volunteer organizations, advisors, college and high school contacts are great people to ask.

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My apologies to you, dear readers, for not blogging last week. I spent my Spring Break stuck in bed with pneumonia. I’m feeling much better and hope you’ll send me your scholarship questions. Next week, I’ll begin answering your questions on this blog. If I choose your question, you’ll receive a free copy of “How to Find and Win Scholarships.”

I’m a Senior. Is It Too Late to Get Scholarships?

Not Too LateHigh School Seniors and College Scholarships

I’ve been substitute teaching at a local Vermont high school for the last few weeks and it’s been an awesome experience. Students like to ask what I do when I’m not at their school. I tell them that I write books and teach students how to find and win scholarships. This always leads to more questions, especially from college-bound seniors. Last week, a student said, “I feel like I’ve missed all of my opportunities. Is it too late to get any scholarships if I start now?”

The bad news is it’s Mud Month here in Vermont (that season between winter and spring), so you’ve missed most of the scholarships available to high school seniors. By my estimates, 40% of the scholarships I find are specifically for high school students, especially the local ones. I tell seniors that this is the most important year to apply for scholarships because it’s the only time they can “triple dip” in the scholarship pool. What I mean by that is, it’s the only time they’re eligible for scholarships for high school seniors, entering freshman, and undergraduates. Next year, that pool shrinks to scholarships only for undergraduate students. (Heads-up, high school juniors!)

The good news is that it’s not too late, but you’ll need to spend time over the summer pulling together documents. You’ll need certain documents in order to apply for scholarships. If you think high school is demanding of your time and energy, college is even more intense. Moving away from home for the first time, getting oriented as a freshman, attending classes, completing challenging homework, perhaps working part time, and, of course, meeting new people and having a social life means you’ll be super busy! This leaves little time left to devote to applying for scholarships. This is why you’ll want to get your Scholarship Portfolio assembled and ready to go. It will save you a ton of time to apply.

What’s a Scholarship Portfolio?

When you find a scholarship, you’ll see that the funding organization has a list of documents you’ve got to send them just to be considered. If you fail to send even one, you’re immediately disqualified. These documents can include:

  • The Application (online or paper)
  • Official Transcripts (sent from your high school or college) or an Unofficial Transcript (a copy you have and can send)
  • Resume
  • Personal Statement and/or Essay
  • Letters of Recommendation (1-3 letters may be required)
  • Test Scores
  • Tax Returns
  • Proof of Enrollment
  • FAFSA SAR
  • Age Verification
  • Photo (headshot or a flattering selfie)

I suggested to this high school senior, that he use the summer months to request these documents and write his resume, personal statement, essays, and a sample scholarship application. Keep in mind that it may take a month or two just to get your Letters of Recommendation back. If you need a sample scholarship application, you can find links in our Featured Scholarships. Print one and use it as a sample to work off of to cut down on mistakes and the time it takes to complete new apps. Keep several printed copies of ALL documents in your files for quick assembly so you can easily meet the deadline. Be sure to also scan and create electronic files (e.g., PDF, Word, JPG) of these documents and put them in a scholarship folder on your desktop for online-only applications. This allows you to find and upload the files or print out new copies to mail.

If you want details about the Scholarship Portfolio documents, you can read more about it here. With your portfolio assembled, you can use the “cookie-cutter approach” and save a ton of time on the scholarship application process.

About those Financial Aid Award Letters

High school seniors (and their parents) may find that the financial aid awards they received for their freshman year, evaporate when they’re a sophomore. Unfortunately, I hear this is quite common. Colleges enroll you as a freshman with a nice award package and count on the fact that once you’ve completed your first year, you’ll stay at the college no matter what the price is next year. This is why applying for scholarships throughout your college career is so important—especially if you don’t want to graduate deeply in debt with monthly student loan payments for the next 15-20 years! Here’s a great link for more information about those award letters.

So, no, it’s never too late if you start today. But that’s up to you. If you assemble your Scholarship Portfolio over the summer, you can hit the ground running at the start of the scholarship season (roughly October through March). You’ll find it’s easy to apply immediately for all the scholarships you’re eligible for and still have a social life. Missed deadlines won’t be an issue anymore.

Do you have a scholarship question? Send me an email. I really love to hear from students and parents, especially during Mud Month.

There's no point in washing my car during Vermont's Mud Month. This is just from going up the driveway and happens every day.

There’s no point in washing my car during Vermont’s Mud Month. This is just from going up the driveway and happens every day.

Winning Scholarships

winning scholarshipsWinning Scholarships: 10 Tips for High School Students

Now that the acceptance letters are rolling in, college-bound students and their families are faced with how to pay for college. Reality sets in when that first tuition bill is due. Here are 10 tips for high school students to follow to increase their chance of winning scholarships and avoiding student loan debt.

  1. Start searching for scholarships now! Don’t wait until spring of your senior year in high school to start searching or you’ll miss half the deadlines. Senior year is the ONLY time you’ll be able to triple-dip in the scholarship pool. You can apply for scholarships specifically for high school students, entering college freshmen, and undergraduates. Search throughout your high school and undergraduate years.
  2. Ideally, you’ll want to hit the ground running by Senior year and apply to every scholarship where you meet the eligibility requirements. This means having your Scholarship Portfolio documents assembled and ready to submit. (A great way to use your summer and you can get help here.)
  3. Run your scholarship project as if it was a business start up. According to our research, it will pay you a whopping $66/hour.
  4. Assemble your Scholarship Circle—Enlist the support of family, friends, teachers, guidance counselors, and other people in your network. Let them know you’re looking for scholarships and ask for their help to find those you qualify for.
  5. Use social media to your advantage to both share your accomplishments to stand out to scholarship committees and to find more scholarships.
  6. Use search methods to yield high-value scholarship returns. Find out which scholarship search sites are the best by downloading our free guide when you subscribe to our blog. Or you can get it here for 99¢.
  7. Apply to every scholarship that you meet the eligibility requirements. Pursue less competitive scholarships such as small awards and local sources. There is far less competition and the money adds up.
  8. Don’t miss deadlines. Use a calendar and a tracking form to stay organized. (If you send us an email, I’ll send you a free Scholarship Tracking Form that students love.)
  9. Follow the scholarship directions exactly. If you’re unclear, send the funding organization an email to get your questions answered. Make sure your applications is completely and correctly filled out and that the requested documents are sent too. Forgetting one document or missing one question can and will get you eliminated from consideration.
  10. Proofread everything before you submit your application. In fact, submit your application when you’re fresh not when you’re tired. Make a copy of your entire scholarship package and log it into your Scholarship Tracking Form. Send the application by certified mail, return receipt requested or with delivery confirmation unless you’re applying online. Print a copy of your online confirmation page.

A Note to High School Seniors: Don’t panic if you haven’t started to find and apply for scholarships yet. Yes, you’ve missed the opportunity to triple dip, but you can use your summer to jumpstart your scholarship pursuit. Be ready to apply immediately to every scholarship you find your Freshman year by developing your Scholarship Portfolio now!

Do you have any tips to add? We hope you’ll share them with the Scholarship Opportunity community in the comments below.

Scholarship Timeline

Scholarship Timeline for Maximum Scholarship Success

Most high school students and parents believe that the scholarship process begins Senior year. To some degree this is true as a high percentage of scholarships (especially local ones) are specifically for high school students. However, the student must be able to hit the ground running and apply to as many scholarships as possible. In order to do this, Seniors need to have:

  • A list of eligible scholarships organized by deadline date, and
  • All the necessary documents assembled and ready to submit with the application (or what we call a “Scholarship Portfolio“)

Another consideration for Seniors is that their last year in high school is filled with college applications, leaving precious little time to find and apply for scholarships.

We suggest encouraging high school students to follow a timeline that will increase their chance of winning enough scholarships to avoid incurring student debt and reduce their sense of frustration and overwhelm.

Freshman Year

  • Start your scholarship search (for detailed advice, check out How to Find & Win Scholarships).
  • Make a list of scholarships that you qualify for and be sure to include the deadline date.
  • Read about the past winners to see what made them stand out.
  • Begin to engage in community service activities (one long-term engagement is better than several small ones as it shows commitment and dedication).
  • Get a part-time job (it will look good on your scholarship resume and potentially lead to employer-provided scholarships).
  • Begin keeping track of your accomplishments (e.g., honors and awards) and the contact information for people who can verify your achievements and write a letter of recommendation.

Sophomore Year

  • Continue to search and add new scholarships to your list.
  • Review your social media profiles and eliminate anything that is damaging your reputation. You may wish to lock down your existing social media profiles and start new accounts devoted strictly to your scholarship aspirations. Here’s a post I wrote that may help: How to Use Social Media to Win Scholarships!.
  • Continue to engage in community service and work part time.
  • Build your Scholarship Circle (people who can help you find scholarships).
  • Continue to keep track of your accomplishments and contacts.
  • Prepare to take the PSAT in the first semester of your Junior year. (Summer is a great time!)

Junior Year

  • Continue to search and add new scholarships to your list.
  • Continue utilizing the power of social media to project the best you!
  • Continue to engage in community service and work part time. Ask for letters of recommendation.
  • Continue to keep track of your accomplishments and contacts.
  • Reach out to your Scholarship Circle to let everyone know you’ll begin applying for scholarships this year and you need their help.
  • Assemble your Scholarship Portfolio. Ask people you trust to proofread and give you feedback about your essays, personal statement, resume, and other documents.
  • Apply for scholarships where you meet the eligibility requirements.
  • Take the PSAT (also known as the “Scholarship Test”). It’s more than just a practice SAT because the results can lead to a fully funded college degree. Check out this great podcast The Significance of the PSAT on How Much College Costs from Celest Horton.

Senior Year

  • Put all the scholarship deadlines on your calendar so you don’t miss any. If you use Google Calendar, you can set up reminders.
  • Apply, apply, and apply!
  • Continue to utilize social media to locate scholarships, share your quest and awards with your Scholarship Circle, and thank them for their support. Remember, Scholarship Committees are looking at your social media accounts!
  • Update your Scholarship Portfolio as needed (current transcripts and resume).
  • Keep track of the scholarships you’ve applied for. If you need a form, we’ve designed one. Just send us an email and we’ll be happy to share it with you.

Don’t make the mistake of waiting until senior year to start the scholarship process. In order to win the most money, you have to put in the time and effort. Remember that your scholarship efforts are paying you upwards of $66/Hour and saving you from mortgaging your future with student loans repayments.

If you need the extra help of learning how to find and win scholarships or assembling your Scholarship Portfolio, we’re just a click away.