Scholarship Search Tips For Parents and Students

Searching for scholarships can be difficult, especially if you don’t know where to look or what exactly to search for, to help you through the process, here are four Scholarship Search Tips For Parents and Students on how to find scholarships and three mistakes to avoid during your search.

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Start early

Start your search for scholarships well before high school graduation. The earlier you start, the more time you have to complete applications and to track down elusive scholarships that have yet to be listed online. Don’t wait until senior year you will already be thinking about college tuition, so it’s not a good time to ask for help with education expenses.

Identify your child’s strongest traits

It’s important to think about your child’s personality, interests, strengths, and unique skill set when searching for scholarships. This is because many scholarships are not based on GPA or income level. A good place to start is to review their high school transcripts, SAT scores (if they were taken), extracurricular activities/memberships in clubs or organizations, awards that they have received over time, skills demonstrated through volunteer work, internships or summer jobs.

Ask your child what they are good at

A lot of times your child may not understand that there are scholarships available for their skill set. Your child will not apply for a scholarship if they don’t know about it. Start by asking them what they are good at; think outside of what you know to be true.

Maybe your daughter is really good at math, but you never saw her take an interest in it before.

Use those answers to find scholarships

The answer to What do you want to study? might be Engineering. But that doesn’t mean your hands are tied. Narrow your search down by searching for a related field, like materials science, or looking at similar programs you might qualify for (for example, mechanical engineering). Just make sure you read up on all eligibility requirements before filling out any applications—some are looking for freshmen only, while others require a certain GPA or test score minimum.

Create an all-inclusive list of scholarships

There are thousands of scholarships out there, but creating a comprehensive list is a great way to get started. Scholarship databases can be useful, but they often require that you know exactly what you’re looking for you have to enter your GPA, for example, before searching. If you have no idea where to start or if you’re looking for scholarships in a specific field (such as art), then making an all-inclusive list is a good place to begin.

Narrow your list to scholarships you’re qualified for: It’s important to not waste time on scholarships you won’t qualify for. Most scholarship databases allow you to narrow your search by a number of factors, including GPA, major, ethnicity, state of residence, gender, type of award (i.e., academic or performance), geographical region of residency and field(s) of study.

Create an excel spreadsheet of information on each scholarship

Building a spreadsheet can help you stay organized as you research and apply for scholarships. Include each scholarship’s name, amount, who to contact for more information (name, email address, phone number), deadlines to apply and if there is an essay to write or video to make. Put everything in one place so you’re not scrambling around later looking for dates or details on a particular award.

Be very aware of deadlines

If you miss a deadline, you’ll likely be out of luck—and out of cash. In fact, there are an estimated $300 billion in unclaimed scholarships every year; make sure yours isn’t one of them!

Once you’ve established your due dates, it’s time to establish when you’ll start your search. You don’t want to wait until a month before your deadlines to start applying—and it can be tempting to think that as long as you apply right before each deadline, everything will be okay. But applying for scholarships can take a significant amount of time, so plan accordingly.

Work as a team with your school counselor

Your school counselor can help you in a number of ways. If you’re having trouble finding scholarship opportunities, they can direct you to their database, which is often more extensive than what can be found online. A good counselor will know exactly how to direct your search depending on your academic interests. Work with them! They can guide you through every step of the process – from filling out applications to recording your GPA. By working together, your chances for receiving a scholarship increase exponentially.

If you’re applying for scholarships for colleges, your counselor will be able to help with those applications as well. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on college, look into scholarships that are meant specifically for students in your area.


The best way to find scholarships is to have a plan. Make sure you set aside time each day or each week to search for them, and be aware of upcoming deadlines. Searching during your child’s senior year in high school or even before can help you find awards that will fund your college education. And, whatever you do, don’t forget about that scholarship essay! After all, it could be what sets you apart from other applicants.

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Badmus Adeola

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