How to Find Scholarships for College Students

You’ve decided to go to college. You’re doing it so you can get a kick-ass education and land a great job. Awesome sauce!

But colleges and universities are super expensive and getting even more so each year. Now that you’re making this college thing a reality, it’s time to think about how you’re going to go to college and pay for it without running yourself into the dirt or winding up owing money to loan sharks.

There is good news, though. Whether your deal is going to a UK college or one in the United States, this article’s got you covered. Read on for some simple yet sweet tips for finding a scholarship.

How do I decide what scholarships to get?

The first thing to realize is that there are way more students applying for scholarships than there are scholarships. That means you have to use your time wisely. Why? For every scholarship you waste applying for that doesn’t fit you, a hundred other students who do qualify are already swarming all over that sucker. So, plan your attack carefully.

Look at your strengths as a student. If you’re a superstar in a sport, it makes sense to try for a sports scholarship. If you’re a genius wordsmith with awesome grades, then look for essay scholarships. If you’d rather binge-watch your most hated TV show rather than write an essay, well, essay scholarships aren’t for you.

Where do you live?

Paying off student debt doesn’t have to freak you out. Relax, because there are plenty of opportunities for you. You just have to know where to look. As usual, firing up the ol’ Google machine is a key first step.

The kinds of scholarships you can grab are going to depend on where you live. The rules and eligibility will also vary wildly depending on your field of study, whether you play sports, or if you’re gunning for a postgraduate degree. There’s a lot to wade through, so let’s first look at UK scholarships.

What kind of UK scholarships can I get?

If you’re located in the UK, go to the UK Council for International Student Affairs website. Going there will help you find out if you’re eligible for a scholarship. Comb over it carefully because the eligibility rules are different depending on whether you’re in England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland.

That’s not the only option for UK colleges, either. You can also go right to the universities themselves to see what they offer. Finding out what they offer is super easy, too. Just go to the college’s website and start digging around. It won’t take you long to see what they offer and whether it fits you.

But if you’re not a citizen of those countries, don't worry. A program called GREAT Scholarships offers help for students working toward a post-graduate degree. Their program offers help to students from the following countries:

  • Ghana
  • China
  • Egypt
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Kenya
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Thailand

What kind of US scholarships are there?

If you’re in the United States, some scholarships are easier to get than others. First, you’ll want to look at your situation. Do you slay every test you take? Are essays your best friend? Do you find yourself smiling ear to ear when you hear the word “academics?” If so, look into merit-based scholarships. Those are awarded based on your academic performance.

But what if you just don’t dig writing? Maybe you get good grades or even great grades, but writing is a struggle. Fortunately, many easy scholarships in the United States are “no essay,” which is just like it sounds. You still need rockstar grades to qualify for these, but there’s no written essay.

Just like in the UK, finding scholarships for U.S. schools is pretty easy. Go to the school’s website and start clicking. And in some cases, just applying to that school will put you in the running for any scholarship that the school offers that you qualify for.

There’s an important point to remember regarding scholarships. If you’re in high school start applying for scholarships after your junior year as you head into the summer break. Scholarships for high school students are insanely competitive, so you need to jump on them as fast as you can.

What about sports scholarships?

Because sports scholarships are a thing both in the UK and the U.S., they get their own section in this article. And that’s because applying for them is different from other kinds of scholarships. But you’ll still need to have kick-ass grades to get that scholarship. It’s not JUST about sports.

Unlike what movies and TV shows may say, coaches, don’t hang out all the time at high schools scouting for talent. While there are exceptions, especially if a high school player is just tearing it up in their sport, some coaches may catch wind of them. But it’s not a normal thing. Most of the time they’re busy coaching! So, the best thing you can do is put yourself in front of those coaches.

Find out what colleges or universities offer programs that appeal to you. Find out what schools offer sports scholarships for the sport you’re in. Write to the coaches directly. Put together a professional letter and a highlight reel of you doing your thing in your sport. Email the letter and video to those coaches.

Follow up with them but don’t nag them. Following up after two weeks is about right. If you do get responses, return their messages promptly. Do your homework on that coach’s school. Know their program, winning record, and even key player stats. By knowing that stuff, the coach will appreciate you doing homework on their school and team. Ask plenty of questions.

Above all, be respectful. You may be a rock star in your sport in high school, but college play is on a whole other level. And the coaches have seen it all. They want to see your talent, drive, and hunger, but they also want to know you’re coachable and can fit into their system. Remember, there are way more players that want sports scholarships than there are openings.

Let’s end this on a good note

If you’re a high school student getting ready to attend a college or university, it doesn’t have to be daunting or overwhelming.  If fellow students or so-called friends try to drag you down by moaning about how tough all of this is, get away from them. Blow them off. Tell them to piss off. Whatever.

Just remember to focus and remain positive. If you get stuck, turn to your parents. Or a trusted teacher. Or a guidance counsellor. If you’re not the open-up-and-talk-about-it type, there are plenty of things you can find out about online to make your college life better. Take ownership of your life because it’s the only one you’ve got.

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