Create a Personal Keyword List

Personal KeywordsMaximize Scholarship Search Results By Creating a Personal Keyword List

A Google search using the keyword “scholarship” returns 27 million results. Who has time to wade through millions of possibilities? You can narrow and target your results by using keywords that are meaningful to you. If you were a collection of keywords (or hashtags), what would they be?

When using a keyword search for scholarships, think of keywords that specifically describe you. Develop a Personal Keywords list that describes every facet of who you are, what you enjoy, what activities you engage in, and what you study. Then use these keywords as search terms when accessing scholarship search engines, building a student profile, or setting up a Google Alert. When you begin to use scholarship search sites, you’ll notice that many provide long lists of keywords to choose from when you register or conduct a search. These lists may contain new keywords that you hadn’t considered but that would be great additions to your Personal Keywords list.

Here are some examples to jumpstart your process:

  • Standing (High School Senior, College Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior, Graduate Student))
  • Major (Psychology, Biology, Art, Math, STEM)
  • Gender
  • Non-Traditional (variations include: nontraditional and nontrad)
  • Ethnicity (Scottish, Swedish, German, etc.)
  • Minority Status (Native American, African American, Alaskan Native, Hispanic/Latino, Pacific Islander, Hawaiian Native)
  • First Generation (or FirstGen)
  • Veteran (or the child, grandchild, or great-grandchild of a veteran)
  • Hobbies (bowling, knitting, snowboarding, etc.)
  • Clubs (4H, Chess, Drama, Music, Ham Radio, etc.)
  • Location (your residence AND your college location)
  • Religion and Spiritual Practices
  • Single parent
  • Disabled (physical, mental, or learning disability; or have a family member with a disability or illness)

You might also wish to search by career field, future job title, by state, or by the name of a college. You’ll want to take note of those you find for the school you attend or are planning to attend. This way you can ask their Financial Aid Office about specific scholarships the college offers that could be applied to your financial aid package.

The more details you provide, the more targeted and meaningful your results will be. Running multiple keyword searches is strongly recommended. Trying out different variations on your keywords can lead to additional valuable results. The possibilities are as limitless as your imagination and interests.

When I teach students how to find and win scholarships, building a Personal Keywords List is the first step. What techniques do you find useful when searching for scholarships?