You may be eligible for more awards than you think. The secret is to “type” yourself. Find the maximum number of scholarship opportunities by thinking about who you are and what you do.
College Major/Field of Interest
If you’re in college, start with your major or academic area. Departments and schools, as well as academic and professional organizations, offer scholarships for students based on their majors. High school students can look for awards in subject areas in which they excel or that they’re considering studying in college.
If you’re a double major, check under both majors to make sure you’re not missing anything. Also, don’t be too specific. For example, if you’re an English major, you can look for scholarships listed under “English,” “literature” or “literary studies” as well as broader categories like “humanities.” If you’re majoring in physics, check “physical sciences” and “science,” too.
And don’t forget to include what you’ll become as well. Whether you want to be a lawyer, doctor, journalist or teacher, you may find awards to help you pursue the career of your dreams, regardless of your major.
State of Residence/State of Study
Part of who you are is where you live. Many state governments offer financial assistance to in-state students. Simply establishing residency, even just in your first year of school, may qualify you for one of these awards. Check with both your home state and the state where you attend college.
Private organizations also offer state-specific scholarships that reward academic merit and extra-curricular achievements. Some scholarships are also available for residents of certain counties or cities.
Also think about things you like to do. Start with clubs and organizations. As a member or officer, you’ll qualify for awards sponsored by your club.
Don’t stop there. What are your hobbies? Have you trained in any special skills or sports? Do you attend religious services? Have you worked a part-time job? All these activities are part of your “type” and can lead to scholarships.
Awards are given to students of certain ethnic or minority groups. For most of these awards, you don’t have to be a full-blooded member of a particular ethnic group. If your parents are from different ethnic groups, look for awards for each group. Also look for scholarships targeting students from broader ethnic categories like “Asian” or “Hispanic.”
A wide variety of students may find that there are awards available to them because they are physically challenged, learning-disabled or suffer from long-term illness. Look for scholarships listed under your specific disability or illness, as well as more general awards for students with disabilities.
If you are a citizen of a country other than the U.S., that’s part of your “type” as well. You’ll find that some awards are restricted to students from certain countries, but many more target international students in general. Look for awards for both categories.
By Roxana Hadad