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How to Win a Scholarship: From a Girl Who's Applied for 300+ Awards

June 19, 2013

How to Win a Scholarship: From a Girl Who's Applied for 300+ Awards

by Diane Melville

Yes, I’ve applied for a LOT of scholarships. It was basically my full-time job throughout college and Scholarships.com was my preferred source for finding the scholarships that I qualified for. You may think that this post will outline how you should do the same thing. False: Me telling you how to apply for 300 scholarships would be like a guy who found a mountain of gold after searching for 30 years telling you to take the same long, exhausting journey. You don’t want to repeat his arduous trek – you just want to buy a one-way ticket to gold mountain! In the same way, I want to teach you some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way that will help you to win scholarships...without having to apply for hundreds of them.

Start Small. I started this whole thing by applying to one scholarship. That’s it. I won that scholarship ($1,500 a year for the rest of my education) and that’s what motivated me to apply for more. Some students create massive goals for themselves and set out to win a ton of scholarships, yet they soon find the process to be daunting and give up. The best piece of advice I can give you is to start small. Don’t try to find hundreds or even dozens of scholarships in one shot. Instead, find five scholarships that have deadlines within the next six months and make it a priority to apply for them. First off, it’s a lot easier to find five scholarships that you not only qualify for, but feel you have a solid shot of winning. Second, this will be enough of a taste of the application process to help you determine whether or not you’d like to keep this whole scholarship thing up. If you do end up winning a scholarship, or if you simply enjoyed the process, then you can go to town and apply for many more. Until then, keep it simple.

Select the Right Scholarships. National corporate scholarships draw a lot of applicants so even if you are eligible, the odds of you winning are low in comparison to the smaller ones. The same goes for awards with very limited requirements. What should you do then? I suggest that your five scholarships look something like this:

  • Two national scholarships (examples: Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, etc.)
  • Three small or local/state scholarships (examples: Central Massachusetts Community Foundation, City of Boston Scholarship Fund, The Girl Friends Fund Scholarship, etc.)

This mix still gives you the opportunity to win a national award but increases your chances of success by including smaller, local scholarships that receive fewer applicants.

Take Your Time. Now that you’ve got your scholarships selected, you should put maximum effort into completing the applications to the best of your abilities. Don’t procrastinate until the night before the essay is due and just slap a few things together with the hope that it’s good enough – really research and consider what each scholarship organization values and try to highlight the areas of your life that reflect these values.

Push Through It! You are going to feel unsure. Maybe you hate your essay. Maybe your resume feels lacking. You get stuck, then procrastinate, then neglect and before you know it, the deadline has passed and you didn’t apply for the scholarship. Don’t let this happen! If you don’t apply, you will never have a chance of winning. Push through those feelings of frustration, ask for help if you need it and just submit your scholarship application. Trust me, you’ll be happy that you did.

Diane Melville is the author of The Community College Advantage and president of the community college planning website, Transfer Bootcamp. Diane has applied for more than 300 scholarships (using Scholarships.com, of course!) and paid for her entire college education using private scholarships. She hopes to use this blog to share everything she has learned about paying for college.

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The Time is Right to Resolve to Evolve

Our Annual Essay Scholarship is Back – Apply Online Today!

June 19, 2013

by Suada Kolovic

The Time is Right to Resolve to Evolve

The Resolve to Evolve Scholarship is about more than just making resolutions - it's an opportunity to proactively and progressively confront challenges, however daunting they may be. The R2E Scholarship encourages applicants to move beyond finger-pointing and offer constructive criticism and workable solutions for problems facing an administration or an organization. Ready to create change and further our evolution as individuals and as a society? Review this year’s prompts and submit your essay today!

The R2E Scholarship is open to all United States citizens who are registered users of Scholarships.com, will be enrolled in high school (grades 9 through 12) during the 2013-2014 school year and will be between the ages of 13 and 19 at the time the award is given. The applicant who submits the best overall essay will receive a $2,000 scholarship. One (1) winner will also be selected from each grade level (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior) and will receive a $1,000 scholarship each.

All entries must be submitted via Scholarships.com’s online submission form by the August 30th deadline. Finalists will be notified by mid-October for additional materials. Winners will be notified in mid-November and awarded in early December. For more information on Resolve to Evolve and other scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!

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Thinking of Transferring? You May Want To Hang In There

June 12, 2013

Thinking of Transferring? You May Want To Hang In There

by Carly Gerber

Are you thinking of transferring because your freshman year didn’t go as planned? The grass isn’t always greener on the other side: As a transfer student, I urge you to think long and hard about leaving your current school. I hope these tips from USA Today College and my personal experience will help you realize that your university may be exactly where you belong.

  • Branch out. I wanted to be best friends with my roommate and to have that “perfect roommate” story. I met her through Facebook so I thought I knew what to expect but our match wasn’t compatible no matter how hard I tried to make it work. You don’t have to be best friends with your roommate – the hardest part for me was accepting that we wouldn’t be friends but it forced me to meet new people.
  • Make a note each day about what makes your school special. During the first quarter of my freshman year, I was so happy about my college choice. I was grateful for the friends I met and thought my campus was in a great location but eventually, I began to dislike everything about the school....even the things I was initially fond of! These emotions are normal for freshman but instead of bailing right away, make a note about what you like about your school each day. There are reasons you picked your college, even when the plans you created don’t go as you expected.
  • Remember the past but look to the future. I had a great time in high school and didn’t realize how much I would miss it until I was at college. It’s okay to miss those high school days: Look back and appreciate those times but look forward to even better times during this new chapter of your life.
  • Take control of your experience. Do you and your roommate have a rocky relationship? Try switching to a new room or plan a new living situation next year. College is about experimenting and changing aspects of it that don’t work for you.

Hang in there and remember that the grass can be greener where you water it!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!

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Study: College Pays, Even for College Dropouts

June 11, 2013

Study: College Pays, Even for College Dropouts

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a high school student, chances are you’ve probably heard this at some point in your high school career: “College graduates will earn $1 million more in a lifetime than those with only a high school diploma.” And while completing your college education is the ultimate goal, students who get at least a partial college education will earn on average more than $100,000 over a lifetime than those with just high school diplomas.

According to a study conducted by The Hamilton Project, a Washington, D.C. think tank, even small increments of additional education pays off: The annual return on a partial education is 9.1 percent and while that’s well below the annual return of 15 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree, it is considerably more than high school graduates with no college education. "It is vastly better to get a college degree," said Adam Looney, policy director at The Hamilton Project. "But I think the evidence says that fears of dropping out, that there are big downside risks to trying it and not finishing it, I think those are overblown. For people who are interested in college, who have ambitions of going and have the ability and qualifications to succeed, I think the evidence suggests it's an extremely good deal right now." (For more on this study, click here.)

Recent high school graduates, do you agree with the study’s findings that investing in some college education is better than none? Let us know in the comments section.

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Like Scholarships.com? Tell a Friend to Win $1,000 in This SOTW!

June 10, 2013

Like Scholarships.com? Tell a Friend to Win $1,000 in This SOTW!

by Suada Kolovic

As a Scholarships.com member, you have free access to a customized scholarship search, detailed financial aid information, an organized college search, standardized test study guides and much more. Like what you see? Spread the word about Scholarships.com to your friends through our “Tell A Friend” Scholarship and you'll have a chance to win money for college - $1,000 for you and $500 for one of your buddies.

To enter, simply copy your personalized TAF referral link and blog it, tweet it, email it, IM it or Facebook it. For every one of your friends who creates a profile on our site by clicking your link, you will be entered to win a $1,000 award; there’s no limit as to how many people you can send your link to and if you win, one of your friends who created a Scholarships.com profile using your link will be chosen at random to win $500.

For more information, visit our Tell a Friend Scholarship page and for additional scholarship opportunities, conduct a free scholarship search today!

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Is the Four-Year Plan Making Us Feel Guilty?

June 4, 2013

Is the Four-Year Plan Making Us Feel Guilty?

by Carly Gerber

According to the Buffalo News, there has been a decrease in the amount of students who receive their undergraduate degree in four years. Fewer than half of the University at Buffalo graduates graduated in four years and many other universities have seen the same decrease in their students graduating in that once-traditional timeframe. For example, Niagara University had only 60 percent of its students graduate in four years, while Alfred University only had 43 percent of its graduates graduate in four years. These statistics aren’t just exclusive to New York State, either: I personally know students from all over who have taken an extra semester or two to graduate.

My circumstances of being a transfer student and a student who has changed her major more times than she can count have caused me to extend my stay at college by a few semesters. Initially, I felt guilt, regret, sadness and self-loathing for needing to spend extra time at college; however, I wanted to feel excited for the future and those negative emotions were only going to hold me back from my full potential. Now, I’m feeling excitement, urgency and passion to take my college career seriously and to become a proud and successful graduate. I feel more mature and wiser because of my setbacks and changes during my time at college.

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!

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You’re Accepted...for Next Semester

New Admissions Addresses Retention Concerns, Confuses Students

June 3, 2013

You’re Accepted...for Next Semester

by Mike Sheffey

Congratulations! Well...sort of. Many incoming college freshmen feel this bittersweet sensation when they read they’ve been accepted to college but not until a semester or two after their intended start date.

Colleges are adopting this practice more and more and it’s no surprise why: Retention rates drop after the first year and this decrease combine with the junior year “I want to study abroad” rush leaves colleges with gaps and vacancies in classes, resulting in less money for schools. This admissions approach is economically better for colleges and universities but is it better for students? Not when they want to take classes somewhere else before that requires full-time student status and not when the students need to get jobs in the semester before they start. This could also potentially disconnect them with the incoming freshman class in the fall and put them in awkward social positions once they arrive.

I personally don’t know anyone that this has happened to – the most I’ve encountered with friends is wait lists – but I know a few that applied to transfer to other colleges and weren’t accepted for the following semester, but the next one. It’s great news that the student gained admission but there’s the question of “Why then and not now?” In an almost B-list manor, colleges are glad to have you but not now – only after the first wave of freshmen.

I know the bottom line is money but in my opinion, this approach devalues all of one’s efforts and projects a message of self-doubt and questioning. If colleges plan to keep doing this, they need to figure a way to build the students up during that semester before entry and provide program options and support so that these kids don’t feel that sense of bittersweet victory and defeat. Deals with other colleges for transfer credits, extracurricular activities, ways for these students to get ahead and job options on or off campus would be an awesome start. What else do you think schools could (and should) do to bridge this gap?

Mike Sheffey is a junior at Wofford College double majoring in computer science and Spanish. He loves all things music and has recently taken up photography. Mike works for an on-campus sports broadcasting company as well as the music news blog PropertyOfZack.com. He hopes to use this blogging position to inform and assist others who are seeking the right college or those currently enrolled in college by providing advice on college life, both in general and specific to Wofford.

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Habits to Keep, Kick in College

May 30, 2013

Habits to Keep, Kick in College

by Carly Gerber

Freshman year of college is right around the corner and I’m sure many of you are happy to be leaving those high school days behind you...but don’t leave behind EVERYTHING you’ve learned in high school! As a college student, I learned the hard way which characteristics to keep and kick but you don’t have to: USA Today recently shared some but I’ve included a few of my own tips as well.

  • Handwrite notes in class. Warning: Keep all technology in your dorm room or, if you must have it with you, make sure it’s switched off. Even those with great self-restraint will eventually take a peek at Facebook...which will turn into a 30-minute session. Using a good ol’ pen and paper will help you to avoid distractions during class.
  • Don’t do homework for one class in another class. In college, finishing an assignment for one class while in another class should be avoided. It will be harder to succeed in college classes – especially those within your major – if you aren’t paying attention in class.
  • Stay in Monday through Friday. This advice may seem unrealistic and just plain crazy but stay in Monday through Friday. There may be great deals on drinks and food off campus on Tuesdays but save your money and energy for the weekend. You will feel like you earned the night out instead of regretting your headache and exhaustion in your morning classes.
  • Get sleep. It’s been proven that getting seven to nine hours of sleep will do wonders for the body and anything less than those recommended hours will make you irritable, less able to concentrate, hungrier and (no surprise here) sleepier. Avoid all-nighters and staying up late like the plague because you’ll pay for it the next day.

Do you have any high school habits you’ve kept or kicked in college? Let us know in the comments!

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!

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Conquering Your Summer Reading List

May 29, 2013

Conquering Your Summer Reading List

by Chelsea Slaughter

Summer reading is something we just cannot get away from...even after high school: Most colleges and universities require incoming freshman to complete summer reading and test new students on this material during freshman orientation or in English classes. Here are a few tips to make completing your summer reading a breeze:

  • Block out your summer. Think about the period where you will have the fewest activities and try fitting your reading in there. Plan early so you know the best time to focus on reading, as a busy summer is never an acceptable excuse to professors.
  • Traveling? Take your reading along. There’s nothing that makes a long flight or road trip fly by like a good book. If you know you will have downtime on your trip, take your book(s) with you to pass by the time.
  • Take notes. If you choose to knock your reading out early, jot down notes to refresh your memory at the end of the summer. You’ll be surprised how helpful reviewing a few details about the main characters and a summary of the plot can be right before the start of orientation or classes.
  • Finish related assignments immediately. If you have questions to answer or a paper to write about the book, complete this work as soon as you finish reading. This is best because your memories are the freshest and you will be able to complete your assignments to the best of your ability.

Summer reading is only a drag if you wait until the last minute – the sooner you get it done, the sooner you will be able to enjoy your summer without it nagging the back of your mind!

Chelsea Slaughter is currently a junior at Jacksonville State University majoring in communications (public relations concentration) and minoring in art. She serves as a resident assistant on campus, is the treasurer in the Public Relations Organization and is an active member in W.I.S.E., NAACP and Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Leadership Society. She aims to work in the entertainment industry post-graduation and is well on her way thanks to an internship with a digital marketer to several music artists. Chelsea strives to achieve all of her goals and motivate others along the way.

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Lights, Camera, College!

What Hollywood Gets Wrong About the College Experience

May 23, 2013

Lights, Camera, College!

by Katlyn Clark

You have probably fantasized about your college experience being just like the movies...WRONG! If you watched movies or shows like “Glee,” “10 Things I Hate About You” and “17 Again” and thought “That is nothing like high school,” the same goes for college when it’s portrayed on screen: I remember watching “Pitch Perfect” after my first month of college and thought, “College is NOT like that!” Here are some examples from TV and the movies that showcase what supposedly happens in college but doesn’t.

  • Going to school with your friends a la “Saved by the Bell: The College Years” isn’t the best idea. Zack, Slater and Screech all went to the same college but this can cause students to rely too heavily on old friendships instead of building new ones. You shouldn’t be afraid to meet new people so introduce yourself to your classmates and join a few clubs.
  • College isn’t all toga parties and food fights like “Animal House.” You will definitely find ways to have fun in college but there are certain things that aren’t cool...like failing classes, drinking too much and wasting your (or your parents’) tuition money. Find a balance between work and play.
  • You can’t bring the outdoors inside like Finn and Puck did on “Glee.” You would get in big trouble for setting up a Slip ‘n Slide or grilling hot dogs in your dorm hall – you might even lose your on-campus housing privileges! Things that are meant to be outside should stay there.
  • You will not have Beca’s “Pitch Perfect” dorm room. We all WISH our dorms look like hers but don’t get your hopes up. The good news is that you can decorate your room to reflect your own personal style!

Do not take college advice from the movies and TV shows you watch except for the fact that it will be an experience you will never forget. For a more accurate picture of what to expect in college, just ask your friends who are already attending college about what campus life is really like!

Katlyn Clark is a freshman at Campbell University majoring in journalism and minoring in marketing. She hopes to become a broadcast journalist for entertainment or write for a magazine such as People or Seventeen. In her spare time, Katlyn loves to hang out with friends and family and watch sports; she is a Christian who is so thankful for God’s many blessings in her life. Katlyn is from Elizabeth City, North Carolina and loves Tim Tebow, Pinterest, the WWE and cats.

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