Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Scholarships: Getting Organized

A few days back, a friend from high school asked me about scholarships.  How do you even start? Well, this is the advice I gave her:

Method 1:

  1. Set up an Excel spreadsheet. Have columns with scholarship title, website/source, deadline, materials needed (resume, transcript, letters of rec, etc.). 
  2. Set up a word document (or even another tab on Excel) for criteria that YOU personally qualify for/interests. Have about 10-20 key words. So, you could put female, engineering, [your major], [hobbies], [place of study], [home city/metropolitan area], [interests- especially those in your major], [different industries...food, manufacturing, surgery, pharmaceutics], the list goes on and on Have some solid keywords. 
  3. Go on Googling those keys words with the word "scholarship." Start posting potentials on your Excel spread sheet. Disregard those that you don't qualify for off the bat- unless you think you are so strong of a candidate...just remember that you may immediately go in the "NO" pile. You may also want to check off those key words that you've already used. 
This is the dirty way to do it. I'm not saying it's not effective, but it's a TON of work.

Method 2:
Check your financial aid office website.

  • Davis already has a list, feel free to use it: http://financialaid.ucdavis.edu/scholarships/Outside.html
  • I also know that UC Davis has combined all of their scholarships into 1 application. It was a little long, but it was one of the most successful instances of a scholarship for me.  

Method 3:
There are also a few scholarship search engines, which can help but be specific, and don't apply to the general "essay" ones. It's pretty much a waste of time because so many people apply to those.

Method 4: 
Also, tell people you are applying to  ____ scholarships!. Look into very LOCAL scholarships. Oooo even the professional societies!!!! These include ASME, BSME, AICHE, SWE (for engineering peeps).  Find your local chapter...sometimes these scholarships have trouble finding applicants because they aren't usually very well known.

Disclaimer: Many of these methods can be combined.  I'm also not saying you WILL get a scholarship...but applying locally and to many scholarships (at least 30) will definitely increase your chances.

That's pretty much the nitty gritty.
Good luck!

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