How to Choose your Scholarships
by Esther Ng
Students are sometimes overwhelmed by the variety of scholarships that are available– so much so that it can be difficult to search and apply for scholarships without having to go through each requirement with a magnifying glass. Indeed, the bulk of time spent on scholarship applications are used on searching for the right scholarship. So, what if academic grades aren’t all you have? What other scholarships would you not only qualify for, but also have a higher chance at attaining? Here are some ways that Scholar’s App narrows down your searches(thus making it ten times easier!) for you:
Fields of study/Academic pursuit
The number one method of narrowing down your scholarship search would be through your academic pursuit– if you have already decided on one. Multiple organizations offer scholarships for large and varied fields of study, including agriculture, medicine, and engineering. However, it should be noted that scholarships of these sort are usually specified within the STEM(Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields of study. While there are a few Liberal Arts scholarships out there, the choices are a little more limited and students usually gain scholarships that do not specify a field of study.
To sum it up, if you are looking for a scholarship for your academic field, remember these tips:
- STEM majors are the most popular
- Look up organizations that specialize in your field of study
Certain organizations award scholarships based on ancestry, most notably minorities. These scholarships usually originate from cultural organizations that focus upon conserving the practices and traditions of a particular community. For instance, many Native Hawaiian/Polynesian scholarships require applicants to prove that they are at least ⅛ Hawaiian or Polynesian. Another popular ancestry scholarship would also include martial arts centers and organizations that offer scholarships to students of Cantonese or Chinese background. If you do fall under a minority community, narrowing your search to ancestral or cultural scholarships would be helpful in finding more choices that you would qualify for.
Sports-based scholarships are well-known throughout the States; however, only very few give full sponsorship to students to represent their college team. There are, however, many other organizations that offer scholarships to students who have been active within a specific sport or co-curricular activity. Examples include golf clubs that offer scholarships only to students who have proven their skill in golfing. Applicants do not necessarily have to pursue this sport in college; however, they should be of excellent standing within their school golf club or have represented their high school at state level. This in-between requirement gives more breathing room for applicants who do not necessarily intend to pursue the sport further in college.
In addition to sports, there are a variety of co-curricular activities that students can easily be involved in. These stem from the types of organizations that students would have been active in in high school, such as the business club, or an art club. If you have been actively involved in certain co-curricular activities in high school, it would help to search up scholarships that reward applicants in that specific activity.
The catch that lies with needs-based scholarships are that there are often other requirements that applicants have to fulfill. It is difficult to find scholarships that are rewarded based on income alone; therefore, students should be prepared to have to fulfill other requirements set by the donor. Most scholarships that consider home income, however, also commonly judge their applicants based on:
- Academic performance(GPA and grades)
- Co-curricular activities
- Community service
These kinds of scholarships are particularly targeted at international students and students who wish to study abroad. Each scholarship, however, has its own unique requirements based on the donor or donor organization. Consider your status as well should you be scholarship-hunting, especially since there are many scholarships for study abroad students available. For international students, it would help to check with their International Student Society within their university, if there is such an organization available at your campus. More often than not, counselors and advisors are able to assist in finding scholarships that cater to these students alone.
- Find an international student organization, preferably one associated with your home university
- Find organizations that offer study abroad scholarships
Do you have any other ideas other than the ones mentioned above? If so, leave them in the comments for other readers to explore!