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How to Start Your Scholarship Search with Tips from Diane Melville

I applied for more than 350 scholarships and paid for my entire education using scholarships. I’d like to say that first so that you don’t worry that I’m just some old guy sitting at home writing about college scholarship stuff that I read online once.

I’ve been in the trenches and I have my battle scars (mostly paper cuts) to prove it.

I’ve seen it all, and I know one thing for certain: everyone can win a scholarship. Yes, everyone. You just have to be willing to put the time and effort into the process. Allow me to break down the what, when, where, and now-what’s of scholarships.

What’s a scholarship?

A scholarship is a grant (i.e., free money) given to a student by an organization to support the student’s education. There are two types of scholarships: institutional scholarships and private scholarships.

Institutional scholarships are typically awarded by the college/university that you attend or plan on attending. Private scholarships are scholarships that are created by individual people or organizations. When I talk about scholarships here, I’m talking about private scholarships.

When to look and apply for scholarships

Right now! Go find and apply for scholarships right now. It doesn’t matter what grade you are in, what your GPA is, or where you live—you can apply for scholarships immediately. Don’t wait until you’re a senior in high school getting ready to go to college to start looking for scholarships.

Where to look for scholarships

Finding a scholarship is all about hustle. You are not going to find hundreds of scholarships after just 5 minutes of searching. Be prepared to spend at least an hour searching for scholarships in one sitting. Scholarships can be tricky to find because anyone can create a scholarship—but not everyone is good at making their scholarship easy to find.

Here are a few resources to get you started on your scholarship search:

Complete the profile on these sites and spend your time browsing through all of the results presented to you. A lot of students apply for the scholarships on these sites, but it’s a good place to start your scholarship search.

Now what?

Now that you’ve got some places to start searching, you’ve got to get out there and hunt! A good rule of thumb that I like to use is that for every 10 scholarships that you apply for, you have a good chance of winning one. Winning a scholarship is a numbers game. Meaning the more scholarships you apply for, the higher your chances are of actually winning one.

Happy Hunting!

For more tips on getting scholarships, plus information about transferring from a community college, check out The Community College Advantage by Diane Melville.

the community college advantage by diane melville

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About the Author

Diane Melville is a first-generation college graduate who applied for more than 350 private scholarships, earning enough money to pay for her entire private school education. She attended Miami-Dade College, a community college, before transferring to Babson College.

Diane Melville is the author of The Community College Advantage.