Simple. Do something no one else does. That’s exactly how to get a scholarship.
Academic/Merit-based Scholarships: These are the most common, and you can receive them based on your GPA, class rank, artistic/musical abilities, ACT/SAT scores or even PSAT scores (National Merit Scholarship). They can be offered by universities and private donors, ranging from a few hundred dollars to a full ride plus stipend. It often makes sense to consider a private tutor for the SAT in order to maximize your score and chances at scholarship opportunities.
Athletic Scholarships: The more unusual the sport you play, the better. Everyone plays football or basketball, making those scholarships much more competitive. But, if you swim, play tennis or even play something very unique like water polo, your chances could be much better. But, larger sports like football offer up to 38 scholarships, compared to water polo’s 4.5 for men and 8 for women. Title XI mandates that schools offer equal scholarships for male and female
These are typically handed to students, but you can improve your chances by having your high school coach invite college recruiters to your games/meets. Or you could contact college coaches directly and ask for a tryout…or to work out with the team. It’s best to start with your D-1 local schools because many D-2 or D-3 schools offer limited scholarships.
Need-based scholarships: Schools consider your parents’ income, state/city living expenses, your number of siblings and how many of them are in college to determine your financial need.
This process usually starts with filling out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form, which will be yours and your parents’ official statement on your financial background. Colleges will then compare your needs to your classmates. If your classmates come from wealthier families and have fewer siblings in college, you will receive more. For some colleges, there may be additional requirements such as: maintaining at least a 3.0 GPA, being accepted into a certain program, or being in-state.
They can be offered for any dollar amount and from federal/state governments or individual schools.
Unusual scholarships: Every college has a list of random scholarships, usually posted on its website. However, you might be able to find a more extensive list by calling admissions counselors and asking for one. These scholarships can range from being proud of your Irish ancestry, demonstrating a love for bowling to even being left handed.
But, you will still be competing against many other students, and you’ll have to write an essay to earn them. The goal is to write the most unique essay. Be creative, be colorful and be as different as possible. If you write one they haven’t read before, you’ll leave them with no choice.
Private organizations scholarships: Some companies offer scholarships valid at any school. They can be given for a variety of reasons, such as: community service, completing an internship at the company…even to making a prom dress out of duct tape. Search your local chamber of commerce to see a listing. Many companies will even help you hire a private tutor for additional assistance.
Military scholarships: These are offered to students who enroll in a specific military branch. They can offer a full-ride plus stipend, but students must complete years of active service before or after graduation. That can vary with each branch.
Private donors: Remember the days of walking around door-to-door to raise money for your select sports team? Well, this is similar, but you’re now asking for people to fund your college education. And it can actually happen. Some students have reached out to wealthy alumni, simply asking for scholarship money. It’s difficult, but if you start hanging around alumni gatherings or even cold-calling people, you just might get lucky. That is, if you can really impress them.
About the author, Chuck Cohn
Chuck Cohn graduated from Washington University in St. Louis. He is the founder and CEO of Varsity Tutors. Started in 2007, by Chuck and two college friends, the tutoring service has grown into a nation-wide network of over 1,000 individually credentialed tutors. They offer tutoring in a wide variety of courses in Math, Science, English, Test Preparation, numerous Foreign Languages, and Social Studies. Varsity Tutors has offices 14 cities in the United States and has helped thousands of families.