Nedda Gilbert, MSW, Educational Consultant, and Author
There are thousands upon thousands of scholarships available. They can be provided by religious institutions, private enterprise, corporations, clubs, a memorial fund, banks, charities, social and professional organizations, nonprofits, employers, schools and even an individual. There are scholarships for students who want to study marine biology and scholarships for co-ed cheerleading. There are weird and unusual scholarships like the Asparagus Scholarship which provides $2000.00 a semester to full-time juniors, seniors and grad students pursuing a degree in business or food science with the goal of working in the grocery industry. And there are scholarships in honor of famous people: Alec Baldwin for drama at NYU, Gene Kelly for dance, and the David Letterman Telecommunications Scholarship. There is an American Association of Candy Technology Scholarship (for those studying food science) and also a National Rifle Association YES Scholarship. The point is, the list just goes on and on. There is even a Pokeman Scholarship.
There are three kinds of scholarships: those that are based on some unusual characteristic or interest like above, those based on financial need and those that are merit based. Merit scholarships are those awards based solely on academic achievement like grades and scores. It sounds like this is what you are looking for.
These types of scholarships are notoriously hard to ferret out. The question you pose is the one everyone asks: how do I find them? And how do I get one? Finding a scholarship is in some ways like looking for a needle in a haystack. Where do you even begin?
One place to begin is with your application strategy. Many colleges will give significant scholarship money to standout students who far exceed the schools criteria for admission. Offering a lure to top notch students elevates the student profile at a given school, and the school's reputation. Many schools have risen in the rankings and re-branded themselves in this way. Want some money based on your high scores/grades? Consider including in your list of schools several that you're a shoe-in for to see what kind of offers might come your way. Most students go to the most prestigious school they can get into. In this case you might choose money over prestige. There are many variables here - how this plays out for you will depend on the types of schools you're considering and the monetary awards offered. For example, some students receive such a significant offer that it becomes easy to make a decision: money rules. For others the same offer is torturous because the school they really had their heart set on offered them zip. If you're not applying early decision, and willing to encounter this possible scenario, aim for a few more "likely" or safety schools. But only if you would seriously consider matriculating there. And be careful about "strings attached" offers - like needing to maintain a "B" average.
Another place to begin is with your favorite teachers and guidance counselors. Ask if they know of any scholarships you might be right for whether it be based on your academic interest, your exemplary leadership, or a unique talent (dance, singing, cooking) career goals, or unusual interest.
But more than anything, consider turning to scholly.com - an app that cleverly simplifies the process of searching for college scholarships. .Developed by Christopher Gray a Drexel University student who found himself overwhelmed by the byzantine process of scholarship search, Scholly .com has managed to do the impossible, consolidate the grand canyon of information and data on scholarships into one streamlined place. You'll even find advice on how to apply for a scholarship and examples of winning essays. Featured on Shark Tank, scholly.com got a $40,000 investment and the Sharks a 15% stake. By now, it's off and running.
The above are some guideposts for helping you navigate your scholarship search. With all that's out there, I'm hoping you find something that helps you pay for college and allows you to pursue your dream!.