Scholarships: What To Keep In Mind

Eleanor Fiscor

Seniors–‌while ‌rushing‌ ‌to‌ ‌write‌ ‌Common App‌plication ‌essays,‌ ‌figuring‌ ‌out‌ ‌which‌ ‌
majors‌ ‌to‌ ‌study,‌ and preparing for that Physics test next Friday, be ‌sure‌ ‌to‌ ‌add‌ ‌applying‌ ‌to‌ ‌scholarships‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌big‌ ‌To-Do‌ ‌list.‌ ‌This ‌may‌ ‌seem‌ ‌like‌ ‌a‌ ‌daunting‌ ‌task.‌ ‌What‌ ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌scholarship?‌ ‌How‌ ‌many‌ ‌can‌ ‌I‌ ‌apply‌ ‌for?‌ ‌How‌ ‌do‌ ‌I‌ ‌receive‌ ‌funds and loans?‌ ‌ ‌

Hopefully, this will clear the air.

The simplest definition of a scholarship is a financial award granted based on credentials, an essay, an interview, or some set of official standards. Below are some things to remember:

There are various types. ‌Those that are privately‌ ‌funded‌ are not financed ‌by ‌the‌ ‌government‌ ‌or‌ ‌colleges‌ ‌and‌ ‌universities, so they can be easily layered on top of other scholarships.‌ It is important to remember that these are not usually going to be a very substantial source of money; the majority of the money received will come from the federal government and an individual university. Nonetheless, apply!
Regarding federal aid, it is crucial that students complete their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as soon as possible. This will give you access to federal student loans, grant programs, and work studies throughout college based on financial need. If this is not completed yet, go do it now!
Unlike the FAFSA, merit-based scholarships are awarded to students based on their academic achievements, athletics, artistic abilities, and talents, not their financial situation. In this category, there is money that comes directly from the university and money that is non-school-based. A university may require a student to apply for aid through their general college application, or a school could require an entirely different application just for merit: look into the needs of each university.

There‌ ‌is‌ ‌no‌ ‌limit.‌ ‌Apply‌ ‌to‌ ‌as‌ ‌many‌ as time allows. ‌Some‌ ‌students‌ ‌are‌ ‌reluctant‌ ‌to‌ ‌apply‌ ‌for‌ ‌one that‌ ‌only‌ ‌awards‌ ‌300 ‌dollars‌ ‌when‌ ‌really‌ ‌they‌ ‌can‌ ‌be‌ ‌some‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌most‌ ‌valuable.‌ This can be used to buy textbooks or laptop cases or backpacks. ‌Each‌ ‌amount‌ ‌of‌ ‌money‌ ‌adds‌ ‌up‌ ‌and‌, cumulatively, ‌will‌ ‌have‌ ‌a‌ ‌greater‌ ‌impact‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌end.‌

Stay organized and put in the research. Looking for scholarships is a long and, at times, grueling process. Don’t worry. Start a running document or Google Drive folder of all pending applications. Then, write the due date — be sure to submit all materials by the deadline. It is not uncommon for late applications to be discarded because, based on its popularity, the organization has received thousands of on-time submissions.

‌Start‌ ‌local.‌ ‌A‌ ‌great‌ ‌place‌ ‌to‌ start ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌Hunterdon‌ ‌Central‌ ‌School‌ ‌website.‌ ‌Select‌ ‌“College‌ ‌and‌ ‌Career‌ ‌Services”‌ ‌under‌ ‌the‌ ‌Counseling‌ ‌tab‌ ‌and‌ ‌scroll‌ ‌down‌ ‌to‌ ‌select‌ ‌“Scholarship‌ ‌Information.”‌ ‌More‌ ‌information‌ ‌about‌ ‌local‌ ‌scholarships‌ ‌is‌ ‌available‌ there.‌ ‌The‌ ‌submission‌ ‌deadline‌ ‌has‌ ‌been‌ ‌extended‌ ‌to‌ ‌3:00‌ ‌pm‌ ‌on‌ ‌April‌ ‌6th,‌ ‌2021 because of COVID-19.‌

Branch out based on interests and talents. Poets, guitarists, ice hockey players, cashiers, robotics club members: there are opportunities for everyone. The best online resources are found at, Collegevine, Cappex, Unigo, and Scholly to name a few.

Some‌ ‌basic‌ ‌rules‌ ‌to‌ ‌abide‌ ‌by‌ ‌while‌ ‌searching‌ ‌and‌ ‌applying‌ includes ensuring that the organizations and the websites are legitimate. If a fee is required to view the site, it is most likely not secure. Don’t‌ ‌ignore‌ ‌the‌ ‌optional‌ ‌questions — these‌ ‌can‌ ‌increase‌ ‌your‌ ‌chances‌ ‌by giving ‌the‌ ‌organization‌ ‌a‌ ‌better‌ ‌look‌ ‌at ‌you‌ ‌as‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate.‌ ‌Also, if there is an optional essay, do not skip it.‌ ‌When writing, speak‌ ‌with‌ ‌passion and confidence.‌ ‌Include‌ ‌as‌ ‌many‌ ‌details‌ ‌as‌ ‌possible in order to let‌ ‌your‌ ‌personal‌ ‌voice‌ ‌shine‌ ‌through.‌ ‌Lastly, you‌ ‌do‌ ‌not‌ ‌need‌ ‌to‌ ‌wait‌ ‌for‌ ‌college‌ ‌plans‌ ‌to‌ ‌be‌ ‌finalized‌ ‌before‌ ‌applying‌ ‌for‌ ‌scholarships.‌‌ ‌

‌The most important thing to remember is to be persistent. Do not be discouraged if there are several fruitless attempts when applying. Keep trying. Look around in the community, as well, because local police stations, rotary clubs, stores, and hospitals all offer opportunities to receive aid for college. Stay organized, take the time to research, know your options, and stay focused.