Sometimes the best way to learn is to go through the process yourself and then share your learnings with others. That’s exactly what Dawn Wotton did the other day in our Paying For College 101 Facebook group. Her suggestions on how to apply for scholarships were so good, we’re sharing them here for all to read.
Here are Dawn’s tips to consider when applying for private scholarships…
1) Ask the people writing the reference letters if they will allow you to have a couple of copies made and to be able to use them more than once.
Why? A lot of scholarships ask for recommendation letters. How many different people do you want to have to ask?! You’ll not only be using them to apply to the schools…you’ll need them for local & outside scholarships too!
2) Think about who your student should ask to write their recommendation letter(s).
Scholarships will often dictate/recommend the type of person they want to see a recommendation from. The scholarships my daughter applied to asked the following people to write recommendation letters: 3 different teachers (they covered both her base high school and the Governor school she attended), her gymnastics coach, a lady she has babysat for for 4 years, 2 leaders from our Boy Scout/Venturing Troop/Crew (daughter was a Venturing Scout). EVERYTHING was covered. Academics, Athletics, Leadership, Community, and Responsibility.
3) Essays! Some scholarships want 250 words. Others want 500….my daughter had a couple that were “up to 2500 characters.” Pay special attention to those requirements.
4). Write a couple of good essays.
The re-occuring theme we saw was leadership and community service. Once my daughter had a couple of good essays, she tweaked them to fit the word/character requirements and scholarship specifics. She probably wrote 2 dozen essays but they were from the same 3 essays!
5) Start looking early.
We had searched for different local scholarships late summer/early Fall. Most didn’t open the application until Jan or Feb. By the time the applications were open, we were prepared. We knew who she had to get recommendation letters from, who was asking for tax forms, etc.
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By Dawn Wotton, a mother of two, with a rising Junior at Old Dominion University and a daughter going to VA Tech in the Fall. Dawn used her tips to help her children find scholarships so they could avoid graduating with debt, like she had to.