Holiday breaks are just around the corner and students everywhere are looking forward to sleeping in, relaxing, and doing pretty much a lot of nothing. Who can blame them? As much as students deserve a break, however, using this break time wisely will be a much smarter choice in the long run. As high school seniors finish and submit college applications and essays, looming in the not too distant future is the one thing most of their parents fear the most: The College Tuition Bill!
Here are 5 tips to help students enjoy their holiday breaks, but at the same time maximizing this time to find and apply for as many college scholarships as they possibly can, easing their parents’ minds and hopefully, checkbooks.
1. Set aside time each day dedicated to scholarship searching. Parents can help here, partnering with their student to double the amount of scholarships that will be found. Encourage siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents to join in the hunt and hours of searching can be condensed into a fraction of that time with so many people helping.
2. Start Local. Check with local banks, credit unions, community foundations, churches, club organizations (Elks, Masons, Lions, etc…), parents’ employers, retail stores, hospitals, and small businesses to see if they offer scholarships to students in their area. If they have a website, look for scholarship opportunities and if none are found, send them a very polite email asking if they have one. If no website is found, go ahead and call them, making sure the student is doing the one calling. Local scholarships have less competition, making winning one that much easier for students who apply for them.
3. Sign-up for scholarship search websites, such as Fastweb.com, Scholarship.com, and studentscholarshipsearch.com. Make sure you fill out all profiles completely, as this will provides students with more scholarship matches. If a student is unsure of a college major, check each box next to a major that they might consider. This will also bring in more scholarship matches.
4. When making the list of scholarships that a student thinks they qualify to apply for, also list exactly what is needed for each application. Include number of letters of recommendation, word count/subject of essay, due date, and anything else required, such as high school transcripts and number of volunteer hours. This makes it easier to organize scholarships into which month they are due and avoids the common problem of students scrambling to get last minute letters of recommendation and essay editing from teachers and guidance counselors.
5. Recycle scholarship essays. One outstanding essay can be used for several scholarship applications, saving students a ton of writing time. Carefully adjust word count, if necessary, and make sure at least two pairs of eyes have read the essays for grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. College essays can also be used for scholarship essays, if the subject matter is similar. Each essay may need some tweaking to make sure the question is completely answered, but this will take less time than starting from scratch and writing a whole new essay.
College is not only expensive, it is often thought of as out of reach for many students because their parents do not make enough money to pay for tuition, room, board, books, and all the other fees and expenses associated with higher education. Applying for as many college scholarships as possible is a wonderful way for students to help pay for these expenses before the first tuition bill even arrives. Students who maximize their time and use their holiday breaks wisely will be able to apply for even more scholarships than they thought possible. The more college scholarships applied for, the better their chances of winning.
What can you do to help a student in the scholarship process during the holiday season?
Bio: Monica Matthews is the author of “How to Win College Scholarships.” She helped her own son win over $100,000 in college scholarships and now shares this passion with other parents and their students. Her scholarship tips have been featured on several websites and she has been dubbed the “Go To” expert on college scholarships. You can find her at http://how2winscholarships.com.