A frequent misconception about scholarships is that they are only available to the highest ranking academically. The average and above average student often don’t apply because they don’t think they will qualify. While academic ranking and grades are important, that is only one part of your student’s credentials.
Most students and parents are not fully informed about scholarship opportunities available to them. There are many sources for scholarships. Some examples are:
- All universities that the student is considering attending
- County Community Foundations
- Veteran’s Organizations
- Associations related to field of study
Scholarships generally have a variety of criteria that have to be met by the recipient. Criteria is what the donor (may be a person, group, company or organization) determines are important points regarding the student(s) they want to assist. Universities and organizations are interested in finding the applicant(s) who best fit the criteria for a scholarship award.
Common university and organization scholarship criteria may include any or a combination of:
- Resident area (state, city, county, portion of county, school corporation)
- Grade point average (GPA) (may be as much as a 3.5 or a minimum of 2.0 that must be maintained at all times)
- Class Ranking
- Student status – Full time or Part time (typical full time is 12 credit hours or more, part time is 6-11 credit hours)
- Major of study
- Family affiliation with or membership in an organization
- Leadership qualities
- Talent in an area related to major
- Financial need
How to find scholarships:
- Newspapers: clip information on scholarships distributed within the community that your student meets the qualifications for.
- Online: university websites (ex: vinu.edu) many websites have information about the scholarships they offer.
- Online: There are many FREE websites that offer tips and resources for scholarship searches. We suggest you create a separate email when using these scholarship search resources.
- School guidance office/Senior Counselor(s): one of the best resources for local scholarships.
Local communities have scholarships available to local residents. Indiana students can check out this list of Indiana Community Foundation scholarships.
To successfully qualify for scholarships, students need to begin working right away on “setting themselves apart” from the other applicants.
- Improve grades and study habits.
- Track extra-curricular activities (community, school, church, athletics, job) Consider leadership positions if the student is able to do so without adversely affecting grades. Make note of awards received, offices held, responsibilities, etc.
- Request letters of recommendation from those who are directly related to the activities.
- Start building the student’s “resume”.
- Take the SAT or ACT more than once if needed, to improve scores.
- Pay attention to deadlines and application requirements.