Quetzal Mama’s 2015 “Quick Tips” to Nail Scholarships!

Quetzal Mama’s 2015
“Quick Tips” to Nail Scholarships!

I feel the frustration of thousands of high school seniors who don’t know how to work the scholarship circuit.  It’s not like high school students have handbooks or take classes in how to strategize and map out scholarship winnings, right?  So, I created this “quick tips” guide to help you nail this process!

Tip One – Get your Ducks in  Row.  You’ll need electronic and hard copies of your most recent official transcripts, and at least three letters of recommendation.  You’ll also need mailing labels, and lots of 9x12” envelopes.  Although most scholarships have already moved to an online application process, there are still many organizations that require you to mail your docs with a given post-mark deadline.  Be ready.  Additionally, get a professional email address and use this address exclusively for scholarship applications.  Using an email like [email protected] or [email protected] is not appropriate for scholarship applications!  Finally, get a conservative outfit pressed and ready to go for interviews.  Many times you’ll be notified with very short notice for an-person interview with a scholarship panel.  Don’t get caught off guard – run to Ross or Marshalls and get a simple black and white (or grey and white) uniform.  Tip: don’t wear spikey 4” heels or tennis shoes!

Tip Two – Create a Basic Spreadsheet.  Scholarships have different deadlines and required materials.  To make this process as simple as possible, you need to document the scholarships you’ve identified as “contenders.”  List them by deadline date, or alphabetical – whichever is easiest to manage.  Use this as your “check off list” so you don’t miss deadlines!

Tip Three – Start Local, go National.  Your best bet to nail scholarship dollars is to start with local organizations.  I’m talking about your town’s Rotary Club, Toastmasters, Kiwanis, Key Club, Chamber of Commerce, and even local city utilities (gas and electric, phone company, etc.).  Run to your high school counselling center where they typically post flyers or have updated guidebooks with listings of local scholarships.  Tip – Many national organizations will have local chapters, such as LULAC.

Tip Four – Prioritize by Odds.  It’s logical that your odds of winning a local scholarship are much greater than the competitive national scholarships, yes?  Your biggest mistake is spending lots of time focused on these national competitions where your odds are low, versus investing time in the local opportunities where your odds are high.  Secondly, review the eligibility criteria to assess your odds.  Does your experience and GPA make you a strong candidate?  I’m not recommending that you don’t apply to competitive, national scholarships!  I’m saying to weigh the pros and cons, calculate your odds, and invest your time in those with the most likely payout.

Tip Five – Beware of the Time Wasters & Scammers.  I’m not a fan of national clearinghouses like Fastweb.  In all of my years of coaching students through the scholarship process, I’ve yet to meet any student who has won any of these gimmicky type scholarships.  You’ll recognize these as the “no essay scholarship” or a “lottery” type not associated with any academic criteria.  These are essentially marketing sites where you’ll be required to register and create a profile.  Also, any scholarship organization or websites that requires you pay a fee to apply for the scholarship is going to be bogus.  Learn more about scholarship scams and traps at [Scholarship Traps].

Final tip!  Read the fine print.  There are many scholarships that require you to work for the organization after you graduate from college!  Yikes.  Unless your goal is to work for Hertz Rental Car Company, or spend two years working for a national defense contractor, you’d better make sure you are not getting more than you bargained.

If you enjoyed these tips, like this page or share on FB or Twitter!  To read more of my tips regarding college admission or writing Personal Statement or Scholarship Essays, see my books here:Quetzal Mama Books on Amazon

Stay tuned for the next blog article regarding tips on nailing the scholarship essay!  Good luck -- Quetzal Mama

Posted January 14th, 2015 by Quetzal Mama

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