Thursday, October 29, 2015

Where to Find College Scholarships?

Students looking at colleges--and college prices--are looking for scholarships too.  With annual costs of attendance ranging into the $40,000 to $60,000 a year, who could blame them?  In addition to searching the web for "scholarships," the data show large numbers of searches for specific types of scholarships.  Some of my favorites are:

  • free scholarships
  • fun scholarships
  • weird scholarships
  • scholarships for left-handed people
  • easy scholarships

We can take away a couple of important lessons from this list .  One critical point is that any legitimate scholarship I've ever heard of is free to the applicant, except for perhaps the cost of mailing.  If you have to pay ANYTHING to enter a scholarship competition, it's not a good sign, and you may very well be in the process of getting ripped off.

"Easy scholarships" is also worth your consideration.  We grow up thinking that hard work is a virtue, and that anything worthwhile will take lots of hard work.  Guess what.  With scholarships that's not always true.

If you're an average student, your most "high probability" shot at a scholarship is looking at those available through your high school guidance office.  Many of these are likely available only to students from your immediate area, perhaps just your town or even high school.

The question then becomes, is your time best spent completing extensive applications like the one for the Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship?  After all, that's a $20,000 scholarhship, and 150 of those will be awarded.

While I would never tell a student not to apply for that, I can tell you that I've seen many truly exceptional students apply and never make it through the first round of screening.  The competition is simply that intense.

Meanwhile, I've seen local scholarships of up to $500 or even $1,000 awarded after selection from an applicant pool as low as 3, 2, and even 1.  How would you like those odds?

But don't take my word for it.  Talk to your counselor.  Ask about local scholarships, and ask if you'd likely have a shot at the biggest national scholarships.  Then play the odds as you think best.

For more ideas on finding scholarships, check out my scholarship guide at


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