by | Jan 22, 2020 | Advice for Seniors

1. FOCUS ON FREE: Searching for money should not cost money. Don’t pay for any scholarship websites that require a subscription or involves a credit card, even for a “free trial”. Too many other websites exist that are truly free. However, registering on scholarship websites is almost always necessary.

2. KNOW YOUR GAME: Know the odds of winning and how you can increase your chances of getting money. The Law of 100:10:1 applies: For every 100 scholarships you find, you may find 10 that are worthy of your time and application. From that 10, chances are you may only win one. Remember, small is the new big; your odds of winning five small ($1K) scholarships are far greater than one worth $5,000. Finally, focus on local. The closer your scholarships are to your local community, the better your odds.

3. YEAR ROUND OPPORTUNITIES: Scholarships are offered throughout the year! Most people focus their search in spring. However, increase your odds by focusing on deadlines outside the norm. Plenty of “googleable” lists/websites abound, some can even be sorted by the deadline date.

4. HARD WORK AHEAD! Searching for scholarships requires commitment, time, and resourcefulness. Build a daily routine to search for 5 or 10 scholarships daily. It will become easier as time goes on if you build it into your daily duties, more manageable, too.

5. INNIE OR OUTIE? There are two ways to search for scholarships – prepare to use both. For inward searches, you create an online profile at a scholarship search database that matches you to viable opportunities. Or, you search outwards to find organizations/associations that advertise one scholarship at a time. Get as “granular” as possible without limiting your opportunities when creating any online profile. Answer every question. Enter in as many “keywords” as possible that highlight your unique qualities. For example, if you are offered to select up to 10 college majors or careers that match your interests, don’t select “liberal arts.” Searching for that “needle in a haystack” scholarship requires that you use a needle approach; don’t google “college scholarship”. Instead, try “scholarship, .pdf application, parent with cancer, veteran, left handed, September 2019”. See the difference?

6. ONLINE IMAGE: – Dedicate an email address JUST for scholarship searching. Clean up and “professionalize” your social media accounts. Many colleges, scholarship donors, and future employers will evaluate you based on what they see online. Would your grandmother approve of those pictures or liken to your snapchat display name?

7. WHO ARE YOU? – Write down the 10 things that make you unique or changed your life. Whether it be your heritage, a medical condition, musical talent, hobby, or an experience, the key is finding others who will embrace these characteristics. Google these unique things when scholarship searching. Odds are your results will be much more fruitful. Try another 10, and so on…….

8. TECHNOLOGY TOOLBOX: Create a google sheet or other app to keep track of your work. List scholarship deadlines, application requirements, website links, etc. Set google up to alert you when scholarship applications get posted online or a donor’s website gets updated. Put deadline dates on your phone. Create templates and essays to streamline application questions. Is your academic resume updated, free of errors, and ready to upload? Do your essays “brag” about you (boring!) instead of conveying how your accomplishments are exactly what can contribute to your scholarship donor or institution’s mission?

9. MEMBERSHIPS COUNT: Find associations or organizations that support your unique qualities. Most offer student or “junior” memberships at a fraction of the cost. In addition to helping your resume, some offer assistance to attend their professional conferences/events, or may offer scholarships to their members only!

10. DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS: Scholarship application rules exist in order to exclude non-compliant applicants. Don’t be one of them! Follow ALL instructions. Don’t miss deadlines, and even worse, don’t ask for an extension if you missed it! Don’t exceed word limits. Include all documentation requested. Make copies of anything submitted and use email correspondence whenever possible for a valuable e-paper trail. Offices in Lexington, Hingham, Mansfield, Needham, MA 

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