Senior Scholarship Info
Includes Senior Scholarship Resource Book, Scholarship Spreadsheet and additional scholarship resources.
by Nick Wray
September 13, 2012
Congratulations! Simply for the fact that you are reading this article demonstrates that you are taking the initiative to explore your options for pursuing your education beyond your high school graduation. At the same time, the South Nodaway R-IV District knows that each of you are working continually to make this school year the very best. It is no secret that a higher education will better prepare you for the competitive world of tomorrow. I personally know that having an education can take you far and as our marketplaces become ever more global, it is imperative that you never stop learning.
There are a number of local, regional, state and national scholarship opportunities available in this book to help you achieve your goals. As well as many tips regarding: filling out the scholarship application, asking for letters of recommendation, writing scholarship essays, etc. I urge each of you to take advantage of this great opportunity and apply for any and all scholarships for which you may be eligible. I’ve been amazed at how many scholarships are awarded year after year at our graduation ceremonies.
I cannot stress strongly enough that you must apply to reap the rewards of scholarship monies. I realize that it takes time and motivation to talk to your counselor and fill out applications and forms, but this effort will pay off. I have come to learn over the past 6 years that there is a strong correlation between the number of scholarships a student applies for and the amount of money they receive for post-secondary education despite their class rank. So don’t despair if you are not the valedictorian or salutatorian of your class. Many students who were in the bottom half of their class in rank have received several scholarships simply because they filled out more applications then others in their class.
If you need help at anytime please don’t be afraid to come and ask for it. I am more than happy to help.
P.S. This book will also be posted on SN's Public Drive in the Scholarship Info Folder.
What Makes a Highly Successful Scholarship Winner?
Review the following habits of scholarship winners for tips on how you can
make your scholarship quest successful.
- Successful students always remember the five P’s – Prior preparation prevents
poor performance. Prepare for the scholarship search early. Do not wait until
your senior year.
- Successful students do not rely on their parents to do all the work.
- Successful students vigorously avoid mistakes on their essays and
applications. They always spell-check, proofread, and allow one other person
to proofread their applications and essay for errors.
- Successful students do not ignore scholarships that may be local or those for
small amounts. Scholarship amounts, even as small as $50, can add up.
- Successful students do not rely on only one source such as the Internet for
their scholarship search. They use many resources. Many scholarships on the
Internet or in the free scholarship searches that you find on the World Wide
Web are nationally known and are harder to win due to greater competition.
Local and regional scholarships are not found as easily through an Internet
search, although they may be easier to win because the applicant pool is
smaller. You have to use a combination of resources to find as many
scholarships to apply for as possible.
- Successful students market themselves well. In their applications, they
highlight positive aspects about their lives, especially community
- Successful students do not apply to one or two scholarships and wait for the
best. They apply for all scholarships they are eligible to win. They keep
applying until the total they have won exceeds what they need to pay for the
college they want to attend or until they graduate with a degree.
- Successful students are organized. They keep track of deadlines and
materials required to complete an application.
- Successful students are well rounded. They participate in extracurricular and
community activities. They write about these activities in scholarship and
college essays in a descriptive manner. They try to benefit others as well as
themselves with the extracurricular and community activities in which they
- Successful students understand that SAT scores and grades alone do not win
most scholarships. Scholarship programs look at many factors such as
community activities, leadership, presentation of your application package,
special or unusual talents or skills, etc.
- Successful students do not look for the easy way out. It is harder for them to
believe in a scholarship scam that promises to do all the work for them. They
understand that those things for which we work hardest often bring the
greatest rewards. Hard work in the scholarship process as a high school
student could result in an easy college life without work later, or a loan-free
life after college.
Avoid These Most Common Mistakes Made on College and
- Not following directions
- Not paying attention to the deadline and missing it
- Not typing your application or sending in a sloppy application
- Forgetting to spell check and to proofread after you spell check
- Not including information such as a transcript or recommendation
- Not answering the essay question or another question asked.
Beware of Scholarship Scams
Be alert for services that solicit money in exchange for guaranteed scholarships. Watch out for pitches that boast:
- "You're a finalist!" or "You've won!" a contest or scholarship you never entered. Be wary, especially if they ask you for a credit card or bank account number to hold your "winnings." Don't believe it. You must apply for scholarships first to receive them.
- "First come, first served." While you do need to get your application in before the scholarship deadlines, the “first come, first served” rule does not apply to scholarships.
- "Millions of dollars go unclaimed." Legitimate scholarship awards are predetermined. Sponsors work very hard to find the most qualified applicant.
- "It's guaranteed!" Scholarship searches can guarantee search "results". They can’t guarantee you the scholarship money.
- "We'll do the work for you, for a fee." The fee may be nominal and the offer may come from someone sounding official. So make sure you do your research before paying anyone to do a search for you.
If the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Scholarship Essay Tips
Many scholarship applications require you write at least one essay. These essays are usually shorter and take less time to write than college admissions essays.
The personal essay is critical to winning a scholarship because it lets the selection committee get to know you beyond your grades, test scores, and activities listed on the application. It is also your best opportunity to make a strong and lasting impression.
A good scholarship essay ...
Scholarship essays captivate readers and encourage them to care about you. Writing a good essay is not always easy. It takes time to put words on paper and finesse each sentence to convey the correct meaning.
While there is no right or wrong way to write a great essay, a good scholarship essay …
Get others to review your essay
When you finish your essay, get feedback from others, such as a parent, teacher, or friend. Don’t just ask them to look for grammar or spelling mistakes. Ask them to point out any unclear passages and, most important, ask them if your essay convinces them that you deserve to win the scholarship.
Tips for Letters of Recommendation:
Who Should You Ask?
First of all, the person who writes a recommendation for you should be someone who knows you relatively well. That doesn't mean that only long time associates qualify. It does mean that the recommender has had enough interaction with you to give a genuine assessment of your skills and achievements.
The people you choose to write recommendations must have the ability to write well. These letters are very influential in your case for a scholarship and you need to be sure that your recommenders can translate their thoughts about you into writing. It may not always be possible to know how well people can write but, to the extent that you do know or can find out, try to select the best writers available to you.
It is also very important that your recommenders can be relied upon to produce the necessary letters in the right timeframe. Again, there is no way to be sure on this point but it's sensible to avoid people who have the reputation of missing deadlines or being procrastinators.
Where do you find people to write recommendations for you? Consider teachers in classes where you did well, athletic coaches, club advisors, volunteer work supervisors, employers, religious leaders, friends of the family who are familiar with you and hold a position that lends credibility to the recommendation such as the family's attorney, your doctor or a local businessman.
Analyze Your Need for Letters
Once you know which scholarships you will be applying for, review any directions for the letters of recommendation, i.e., some applications will ask that the letters of recommendation address specific topics; others will simply ask for letters. For example, the Elks National Foundation requests two letters of recommendation. The first should be from a high school teacher and address issues of ability, work habits, leadership, personality and integrity. The second should be from a member of the community and address participation in the community, leadership and outstanding achievements. The goal of your review is to determine where you may be able to use the same letter of recommendation for multiple applications.
In some cases, you may be able to combine the requirements of various scholarships to develop a slightly more overall letter of recommendation outline. Clearly, you have to be sure that you do not attempt to create a laundry list letter outline that serves no purpose well. However, it is very helpful to reduce the number of individual, specifically targeted letters of recommendation required.
If you are able to combine letter requirements, you will have the opportunity to ask one person to write a recommendation letter that will be sent to multiple scholarship funds.
However, be sure that each letter of recommendation is addressed to a specific individual or at least to a specific scholarship fund. Your letter writer may be willing to allow you to reproduce and personalize his or her response then provide those letters back to the writer on plain paper. The writer can then copy the letters onto letterhead and sign them. In that way, you have met many scholarship requirements simply and effectively with the least inconvenience to your letter writer.
Requesting a Letter of Recommendation
First and foremost, please recognize that writing a letter of recommendation is not a simple task. You will be asking someone to work hard on a good letter that will represent you well. Approach your potential letter writers with a degree of humility and acknowledge upfront the commitment you are requesting and your appreciation for their help. Offer to make the job as easy as possible for them by doing some or all of the following things.
Provide all the information your letter writer will need. Make sure that he or she has a written explanation of the topics to be covered in the application.
Provide a list of your extracurricular activities.
Provide a copy of one of your college essays so the writer has a sense of your approach to the college application process and gains a bit more insight into your life.
Give your letter writers as much lead time as possible. It is very likely that some of your letter writers have been asked to provide recommendations for others as well. Asking and providing materials early gives you the best chance of getting your recommendation letter on time. Plus, if your letter writer subscribes to the "first in-first out" inventory system, you may get your letter even more quickly.
Check in with your letter writer at some point in the process to be sure he or she has everything needed. This check is both a supportive touch and also allows you to politely jog the writer's memory and be sure your letter is in the works.
Be sure to ask that the writer use official letterhead if possible.
After you receive the letter, write a note of appreciation. Writers of letters of recommendation agree to do so out of their own enthusiasm for students going on to college and their admirable interest in being supportive. Let your letter writers know that you appreciate their help.
Evaluating Your Letters of Recommendation
Review each letter you receive. Does the letter address the topics it needs to? Does the letter show strong support for you? Does the writer sound professional and well-informed? Great! But, what if…?
What if the letter does not address all of the necessary topics? This is tricky. If you know the letter writer well, you may be able to approach them, point out the problem and ask them to add some content on that topic. If you are uncomfortable with asking for a revision, you need to seriously think about whether or not the letter is usable. Your decision may depend upon whether or not you have alternative letter writers that you can ask and how much time is left before the application needs to be submitted. In a pinch, send the letter. It would be far worse to fail to submit the correct number of recommendation letters.
What if there is some other problem with the letter? The support is lukewarm or the letter is not well written. Weigh the facts. If the letter is not supportive of you, look for another writer. If the contents won't win a Pulitzer Prize but the message of your worthiness for the scholarship comes across, it's probably okay.
Treat those signed letters of recommendation like the treasures that they are. Place them immediately into plastic covers and attach them into your three ring binder. That way you know where they are and they have multiple forms of protection.
Links to Scholarships:
South Nodaway Scholarship Spreadsheet - Updated 2/25/13 - I can no longer link the spreadsheet to this site. If you would like the spreadsheet just send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will e-mail it to you....Or the spreadsheet is posted on the South Nodaway O: Drive.
The Scholarship Spreadsheet is an easy way for you to search for local, state and national scholarships that send information to the school advertising their scholarships. This should be your first stop when scholarship hunting. Note: Scholarships are sorted by deadline (beginning with the closest deadline).
FastWeb Scholarship Search
The FastWeb Scholarship Search is the largest, most accurate and most popular free scholarship search site, with more than 35 million registered users. It is also the most frequently updated and provides automatic email notification of new scholarships that match the student's profile. The FastWeb Scholarship Search was the first scholarship database available for free on the web and is the most innovative and student-focused of all the scholarship search sites.
High Five Scholarships is a website created to help you find free money for college. They are a scholarship matching service and we will find hundreds of scholarships that match your personal characteristics, goals, and interests, free of charge.
High Five Scholarships have been collecting scholarship awards for over 15 years and have accumulated more scholarships and grants than any other source. With millions of scholarships, and over $45 billion in total awards, the best place for you to find a scholarship is High Five Scholarships.
College Board's FUND FINDER
The College Board's FUND FINDER scholarship database lists scholarships and other types of financial aid programs from 3,300 national, state, public and private sources. The database is updated annually.
The Scholarships.com database has good coverage of awards and a fairly precise match, but some of the scholarship entries in the Scholarships.com database appear to contain old information.