A Guide to Scholarships: How to Search, Apply, and Win


Caley Monnier, Editor in Chief

Scholarships are an excellent way to finance your education without incurring debt. While some scholarship deadlines have passed, it’s never too late to begin filling out those application, writing those essays, and winning free money. There are certain tips to keep in mind when applying for scholarships.

Scholarship Searching

Scholarship Databases: Make sure you know where to look for scholarships. Many use large scholarship database websites, like Scholarships.com, Fastweb, Cappex, and Going Merry. These websites allow scholarships to be filtered by your major, location, ethnicity, and other demographics. The vast array of scholarships on these websites allows for easy navigation, but these scholarships might have the largest amount of applications, so use your time sparingly.

College-Specific Scholarships: A way to find more specific, smaller scholarships is to check in with with the financial aid office of the college or university you plan on attending. They can provide information about institutional scholarships. It is also important to check in with the department your major belongs to, as they might have specific scholarships not posted on any websites.

Community Scholarships: Even more niche scholarships can be found by looking into your community. Organizations in Seymour that host scholarship funds will often post them on the Scholarships page on the Seymour High School website. Make sure to check this often, as the scholarships available are constantly updated, and many deadlines closely approach in the spring!

Writing Essays

Once you have found scholarships that you are eligible for, you need to advocate for yourself in your application. Scholarship essays are an essential part of most application processes, and writing a good one can help you stand out from other applicants.

Understand the prompt: Read the prompt carefully and make sure you understand what is being asked. If you have any doubts or questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to the scholarship provider.

Tell a story: Use your essay to tell a story about yourself. Explain how the scholarship will help you achieve your academic and career goals.

Be specific: Use specific examples to illustrate your points. Don’t be vague or general. Thinking outside the box will help you here, as many applicants will have the same general ideas or opinions on a prompt. If you bring a perspective that few applicants share, you are guaranteed further consideration by the scholarship committee.

Proofread: Make sure to proofread your essay for grammar and spelling errors. Ask someone else to read it over as well, such as your teacher or a trusted friend.

Winning Scholarships

Finally, here are some general tips for increasing your chances of winning scholarships:

Apply early: Don’t wait until the last minute to apply. Many scholarships have early deadlines, and applying early can give you an advantage. Some scholarships are even open to sophomores and juniors, so look out for them as soon as you enter high school!

Be organized: Keep track of all the scholarships you apply for and their deadlines. Create a spreadsheet or use a scholarship search app to help you stay organized.

Follow instructions: Make sure to follow all the instructions carefully. Missing a requirement or submitting incomplete application materials can disqualify you from consideration, no matter how well written your essay might be.

Be persistent: Don’t get discouraged if you don’t win a scholarship right away. Keep applying, and eventually, there will be one that grants you your lucky break!

By following these tips, you can increase your chances of winning scholarships and financing your education without incurring debt.