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    Prioritize Your Search for College Scholarships

    Posted April 19, 2024, 10:06 am by The Experts at TeenLife
    Why College Scholarships Should be A Top Priority for High School Students

    Many parents believe college scholarships are a scam. Their high school students work hard, apply and never win anything. They are frustrated, discouraged and feel the promise of scholarships is a pipe-dream. You may have been there yourself, asking the same question: Are scholarships worth the effort?

    With all the tasks related to college admissions, why devote valuable time to researching scholarships, especially when it appears the odds are stacked against winning? Here’s why:

    Thousands of scholarships go unclaimed every year.

    Nearly $100 million in scholarships — and $2 billion in student grants — remain unclaimed every year. In 2022, over $3 billion in Pell Grants alone remained unclaimed.

    It's not because there aren't students worthy of those awards, either. It's because students simply don't apply. Or — as was the case of the Pell Grants — students didn't complete the FAFSA.

     Not every organization offering a scholarship can advertise nationally or blast social media with their opportunity. But it's a golden opportunity for those willing to invest time actively looking for these resources.

    Why leave this money on the table? Do the math. Fewer applicants increase your odds of winning. Become a detective and unearth these unclaimed awards.

    Broaden Your Search: Scholarships for Diverse Achievements

    When you explore funding options, remember that merit-based college scholarships come in all shapes and sizes. Don't limit yourself to scholarships requiring top grades or specific test scores. Hundreds of scholarships exist celebrating a wide range of achievements, experiences, and talents. Many scholarships fall into one (or more) of the categories below.

    • Academic: These scholarships reward strong academic performance, typically based on GPA, standardized test scores (ACT, SAT), and overall class rank. The National Merit Scholarship Program is well-known, but other options exist.
    • Athletic: Standout athletes can earn scholarships covering tuition, room, and board for multiple years. Opportunities range from popular sports like football, basketball, and field hockey to lesser-known ones including lacrosse, archery, fencing, and even table tennis.
    • Community involvement: Showcasing your commitment to civic causes can lead to scholarships. Volunteer experience, involvement in local or global issues like economic equality, diversity, or the environment can increase your eligibility for aid.
    • Demographic: Many scholarships cater to specific groups like first-generation college students or women. Study.com offers excellent scholarships for a range of diverse students.
    • Financial need: Many scholarships prioritize students with financial need. They consider academic ability and come from merit-based programs or offer assistance specifically to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, like foster care, or those struggling with homelessness.
    • Local scholarships: Look to your community for scholarship opportunities. Non-profit organizations, churches, and civic groups offer scholarships to promising local students, especially those involved with the organization or group.
    • Professional interest: If you know your major or career path early on, explore field-specific scholarships. Search engines and filters on scholarship websites can direct you to scholarships aligned with your interests, like STEM. Engineering firms might offer scholarships for engineering students, for example. AWIS is one such resource, as is Scholarships.com.
    • Unique scholarships: Some scholarships have very unique criteria. Explore options based on your interests and skills — like hiking, drawing, collecting specific items, sewing, or video games. There's even a scholarship based on height and others based on diet and nutrition.

    Leverage the Internet!

    We live in a digital world, right? So look to the social media platforms to start your search. Join these groups on social media (or look online):

     Peace of Mind — and a Slightly Less Empty Wallet

    The average college tuition is climbing closes to $100,000 per year, driving a college degree out of reach for far too many people. Investing time in scholarship and grant research can be a game-changer for students and their families.

    Not only does this financial aid help relieve a significant financial burden by reducing college costs, it doesn't need to be repaid — unlike student loans. Access to scholarship and grant money allows you to widen your range of colleges, including private institutions that might have been out of reach without financial aid. More doors open to schools with stronger programs, better facilities, or more desirable locations, potentially impacting your educational experience and future career aspects.

    Many organizations award scholarships based on academic merit, extracurricular involvement, or overcoming challenges. Winning a scholarship becomes a huge confidence boost and validates all your hard work and accomplishments.

    The scholarship application process itself hones valuable skills. Researching opportunities, crafting essays, and meeting deadlines reinforces time management, organization, and communication skills — all transferrable skills that benefit you in college and future careers.

    While the research and application process can feel daunting, the potential rewards make it worthwhile. You and your family can form a team to divide and conquer, spending time on scholarship sites and social media — and keeping their ears open for local scholarship opportunities.

    Once you've found the right scholarships and applied, your chance of winning increases, especially if you're targeting opportunities you've uncovered off the beaten path!

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