In this blog article, we want to show you how developing effective long-term and short-term strategies can help you win scholarship money to help you pay for the high cost of college. We will first discuss why having a long-term strategy is the best approach when trying to win scholarships, and then we will discuss steps you can take right now to stand out in the scholarship selection process. Remember, winning scholarships is all about understanding those factors that are involved in the decision-making process. Once you understand what is important, and what isn’t, it will become much clearer what you need to do to increase your chances of winning those scholarships you apply to.
The Long-term Scholarship Strategy
First, when pursuing scholarship opportunities and thinking about how to get the most amount of free money for college, you should focus on always doing the best you can in school each year. The most important factor that determines how much scholarship money you could potentially win is how you perform in your coursework. The higher your GPA, the better the chance of winning scholarships. Additionally, the rigor of your course load is important along with your scores on the SAT, ACT, and AP exams. So your GPA, rigor of course load, and scores on the SAT, ACT and AP exams are the biggest factors that determine how much scholarship dollars you could potentially unlock. Therefore, always focus on these factors first when thinking about how you can best increase your chances of winning scholarships.
Next, being as competitive as you can outside of the classroom is an important component for winning scholarships. Students who excel in different types of extracurricular activities including athletics, the arts, and music increase their chances of winning scholarships. The more talented and competitive you are in the extracurricular activities you pursue, the more money you could potentially win.
Let’s look at a case study of a student who developed an effective long-term scholarship strategy.
Jennifer had a long-term goal of attending medical school. We began working with her early on and developed her game plan that included how she could be successful both inside and outside of the classroom. First, she wanted to really challenge herself academically so we recommended she take a rigorous course load including taking AP science courses. She performed at the highest level in her courses, specifically in the sciences.
Next, Jennifer wanted to find opportunities that would enrich her experience outside of the classroom, focusing on her passion for medicine. We suggested getting involved in Biology Olympiad which she eventually pursued. Jennifer excelled so much in Biology Olympiad that she was recognized at both the local and national level! Additionally, she became an officer in her school’s pre-med club, conducted research at a 4-year university, and became a star athlete on her school’s tennis team.
Jennifer’s excellence, leadership, and ability to shine both inside and outside of the classroom made her very attractive to colleges and earned her hundreds of thousands of dollars in free money, including half- and full-ride scholarships at great colleges. And she did not have to complete any additional outside scholarships. She only had to work hard in school and be an excellent, stand-out student.
The Short-term Scholarship Strategy
In addition to looking at the long-term strategy game plan, you can also look for scholarship opportunities right now. You don’t have to wait until applying for college to look for scholarships. The short-term strategy should be to apply to as many scholarship opportunities as soon as possible, beginning as early as 9th grade. Use scholarship search engines such as Fastweb, Unigo, and Scholarships.com.
Also, check with your high school guidance office, area businesses, clubs and community organizations (Rotary, Elks, American Legions, etc.), church, and places of employment of both the student and parent(s). These can be great resources and places to look to help you get the most money for college now. Students can literally earn hundreds of thousands of dollars by applying for these outside scholarships. Best of all, these scholarships can be applied to the college you attend in the fall.
When pursuing scholarships, focus on both long-term and short-term strategies. Using both strategies will allow you to unlock the most amount of potential scholarship dollars.
We hope we have given you additional information to think about when applying for college and looking for free money to help offset the cost. We encourage you to take action now and begin your scholarship search process right away so you can find scholarships that you could potentially win!
In Success & Achievement,
Dr. Jeff & Dr. Brian Haig