How Students and Parents Can Take Advantage of National Scholarship Month
Updated: Nov 1
This November marks National Scholarship Month. My blog will be going over some essential information you need to know about scholarships to help you prepare your children and get them into their dream schools with the right funding.
Scholarships might seem a little far off for some parents. I can tell you that the earlier you begin planning for your child’s academic future, the better their chances of success will be. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about available scholarships, deadlines, and even essay writing tips!
What Scholarships Are Available?
If you want to fund your child’s college dreams, scholarships are essential! The price of college is only soaring and I know we all need help paying for this educational investment! There are tons of scholarship options to choose from.
I’ll briefly go over some of the best options here! You can choose from state-based scholarships, federal scholarships, school-specific scholarships, and even scholarships offered by private organizations. This funding is offered based on grades, financial needs, and even your background and identity.
1. Minority Scholarships
Students that are a minority can apply for a range of scholarships. Depending on your race, identity, and grades there are plenty of great applications you can fill out. You can search for specific scholarships for minorities here.
2. Merit-Based Scholarships
Merit-based scholarships are given based on a student's academic abilities. You need to maintain a certain GPA throughout high school and participate in a range of extracurricular activities. The National Merit Scholarship is one example of this type of scholarship.
3. Financial Need-Based Scholarships
Students that don’t have the financial means to go to college may qualify for financial aid and tons of different scholarships. Need based aid and scholarships require that the student complete the FAFSA Application. I highly recommend looking into some of these scholarships if you don’t know how to fund your child’s academic dreams. The Gates Scholarship is one example of a need-based scholarship.
4. Local Scholarships
You can find local scholarships in your community that help fund college. Depending on where you live the amount provided and the requirements will differ. I’ve found some awesome scholarship options at this link here.
5. Military Scholarships
If you plan on going into the military, did service in the military, or have a family member that is an active member of the military, you should qualify for a lot of scholarships. Check out this page to find a scholarship program that meets your needs!
6. Athletic Scholarships
Finally, if your child is gifted with athletic abilities they could qualify for an athletic scholarship. Athletic scholarships are a great way to fund your student's education.
Not only do some schools offer a full ride to their school, but there are many benefits that come along with being a student-athlete. Requirements for specific scholarships differ, but you can see which programs you want to help enroll your child in here.
How Do You Apply For Scholarships?
Depending on which scholarship you and your child choose, the process will be different. Typically, you want to visit the website of the scholarship and see what the requirements are. After you find out what needs to be done, gather any important documents and begin the application process.
Again, specific requirements and deadlines for scholarships will differ depending on which school or organization is funding the scholarship. You need to look up specific dates for scholarship deadlines.
Usually, though, you need to submit your application sometime between September and May. The earlier you send in your application the better, as scholarship funding does run out!
Essay Writing Tips
Not every scholarship will have an essay section. However, if your scholarship does have a written section, look over these quick essay tips for students that I’ve compiled here:
Plan ahead: Students shouldn’t wait until the last minute to write their essays. If you are helping your child prepare their essay, tell them to take their time. They need to outline the content they are preparing for the scholarship. The sooner you make a plan, the better their chances of winning a scholarship will be.
Follow the essay requirements: This might seem like an obvious piece of advice, but some students don’t read the requirements of the essay section well enough. Make sure your student follows all the steps and guidelines and writes in a way that will fit with their audience.
Write about something you care about: Students can choose to write on a topic they aren’t that interested in, but the more passionate they are about their essay topic, the better their writing will be. Tell them to take the time to pick an essay prompt that fits their personality and interests.
Structure the essay: Students shouldn’t just wing their scholarship essay. It’s tempting to write however you want, but if they create a strong outline for their writing and have a clear purpose, the content they write might get them a scholarship!
Check for grammar mistakes: Any scholarship essay should hook the reader and have a strong opening, but none of your planning will matter if the essay has tons of grammatical mistakes. Proofread your student's essay and make sure it flows well!
Show don’t tell: This is a phrase you hear often for any type of writing. Students should provide plenty of real-life examples that show they are a good fit for a scholarship. Simply saying they are academically gifted and talented won’t be enough.
Let trusted friends and family read the essay: At first, your student might not want you to read their essay. Still, this is an important part of the process! Read your child’s essays or have someone else read their essay to make sure it is acceptable for submission.
What Else Do You Need to Know About Scholarships?
There is a lot you need to know about scholarships. I’ve gathered some final important information from a former financial aid director and expert. Many people don’t realize this, but parents should start looking at scholarships for their children in junior high.
Specifically, begin researching scholarship opportunities as early as 7th grade. The sooner you know the requirements for the scholarships, the sooner you can start preparing with your kids. A lot of scholarships are looking at community service hours and other activities that make your child look more well-rounded.
Scholarship programs are specifically searching for motivated students that are involved in their local community in junior high and throughout high school. This means taking on leadership roles, participating in extracurriculars, and doing other activities that enrich the surrounding community.
Students need a good email address. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org is not an acceptable email address when applying for a scholarship.
Students should familiarize themselves with the websites of all of the schools that they have applied to attend. Once admitted, they should check their college email often. The college email is usually the only method of communication between the student and the university.
Students should check with their employers, parents employers, church, neighborhood businesses, Business Chambers, fraternities, and sororities to see if there are available scholarships.
Don’t procrastinate and respect deadlines. Colleges cannot make an exception for your student because of your error or oversight.
Academics are important, but more so in 9th grade onward. Go on schools' websites and find particular majors' qualifications and specialized scholarships. A lot of scholarship searches can be done on your own. I advise you to start early because there are plenty of opportunities out there!