5 Surefire Ways to Get a Scholarship This Semester By Dixie Somers

Scholarships come in all shapes and sizes, but in an odd twist, their ubiquity can make them difficult to sift through and find the ones that are truly valuable or meaningful. If you’re applying for a college such as this one in  Salt Lake City and could use a little financial help, here are just five ways to find a good scholarship.

Utilize All of Your Resources

Don’t wait for an advisor or guidance counselor to hand you a list of scholarships. Get out there and follow the money yourself. Sites like FastWeb, ScholarSwag and BigFuture will allow you to search for scholarships based on grades, athletics, extracurriculars and your personal background, and apps like Scholly offer personalized matching services for specific opportunities. You can also check out local clubs, businesses and community centers to see if any benefactors in your area have scholarships for promising college students. Don’t be afraid to hit the pavement in search of an old-fashioned scholarship that didn’t make the transition to the web.

Apply for the Complicated Ones

It’s common for students to see a 1,000-word essay requirement and decide that they aren’t interested in that particular scholarship application. However, because so many students are avoiding these tiresome scholarships while on the lookout for quick and easy money, this means that the application pool will be much smaller. Instead of battling against thousands of candidates, you might only be in the running with a dozen or so. You can drastically increase your odds of success by putting in the time and effort that other people aren’t willing to exert.

Find Small, Niche Scholarships

You’ve probably heard of the crazy scholarships for duct tape dresses and people who dress like chickens, but niche scholarships are usually more serious than that. They’re just smaller and pickier about who gets their money. For example, the Burger King Scholars program offers financial assistance to employees and children of employees working at one of their restaurants. The Association for Women Veterinarians Foundation helps female college students who want to become vets. These specialty scholarships tend to award less money than the big, glamorous ones, but even $500 or $1,000 can knock a sliver off next semester’s tuition.

Stay within Your Field

If you want to become an engineer, put the brunt of your search efforts into STEM programs. If you’re an artist, look for scholarships based on creativity. This kind of specialized attention to your industry will increase your odds of success and help you establish a documented interest in the subject matter. This is especially important if you’ve already won minor scholarships in your field because you can name-drop these smaller awards on your resume. You’ll basically tell the board, “See? I’m committed to my future career path. I’m worth the investment of your biggest scholarship.”

Clean Up Your Act

Scholarships are about more than just assisting students. From a business perspective, they help their companies spread their brand, make industry connections and recruit young talent before the competition scoops them up. So it should come as no surprise that 26 percent of colleges look at the social media accounts of prospective scholarship recipients. They don’t want to award money to someone who will disgrace their brand and give them bad press. For you, this means that cleaning up your Twitter and Instagram profiles is an absolute necessity before you send off your scholarship applications.

These are just a few ways to increase your odds of getting a scholarship. Whether you’re a freshman already boggling at tuition prices or a senior hoping to save a few bucks before officially joining the workforce, these tips can help you land the financial help that you need to succeed.