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All Recommendation Letters Are Not Created Equal

Aug 13, 2010

by Scholarships.com Staff

It’s always scholarship season around here, and as a scholarship provider ourselves, we thought the weeks before high school and college students return to their respective schools and campuses would be an appropriate time to go over what to do—and not to do—when submitting a recommendation letter in support of your application for an award.

While it probably won’t be expressly stated in any official scholarship rules, there are certain things you should avoid when considering what to do about that recommendation letter requirement, and certain things that will make one letter more impressive than another. This could mean the difference between you and another applicant, so make sure you put some thought into not only filling out the general scholarship application, but what you pass off as your recommendation letter. All recommendation letters are not created equal, and we’ve highlighted some tips for you below to make you a stronger applicant.

  • It is generally inappropriate for you to ask a relative to write your recommendation letter, unless an award expressly asks you to. Your mother, father, sister, grandmother, uncle, cousin, etc. probably think you’re great already, and it may be tough for a scholarship provider to place much weight on such an endorsement.
  • Try to avoid asking family friends, too, unless they have experience working with you in a professional capacity. It may be fine for you to ask a family friend to write your letter if they were your community service supervisor, for example, but you should probably go another route if they only know you on a personal level.
  • Keep it relevant. Take a look at the experiences you’ve had that relate to the scholarship in question. If it’s a general essay scholarship, talk to a former teacher at your high school or professor if you’re a college student. And ask those educators to submit their letters on letterhead; it isn’t overkill to make your application look as professional as possible.
  • Consult your resume. If it’s a scholarship related to a particular field of study that you have some work experience in, talk to former employers or internship coordinators. They certainly know better than anyone about your experience in that field, and it could boost your application to give the scholarship provider some evidence of your passion for a particular field.
Check out our site for more tips on asking for that scholarship letter of recommendation. And remember: a scholarship provider will be looking at your application as a whole, so even if you’ve written a stellar essay, missing a piece of the listed requirements or submitting a weak attempt at any of the requirements will probably put you out of the running for that award.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Beat the Odds Scholarship Program

Aug 9, 2010

by Scholarships.com Staff

With an increase in programs to keep students in school and a renewed focus on improving college preparedness and high school graduation rates, it’s no surprise that there are scholarships out there that want to help students achieve those goals. This week’s Scholarship of the Week is one such award, and targets college-bound high school students in Oregon who “beat the odds” to get to where they are and onto the path to higher education.

The Beat the Odds Scholarship Program from the Stand for Children Leadership Center awards $2,500 scholarships to students who have overcome personal obstacles and hardships while remaining on track to graduate high school the following year. Winners will be asked to share their stories publicly, so applicants should be comfortable doing so. You don’t need to be attending an Oregon college to apply, but you do need to be an Oregon high school student. Those in other states should try a free scholarship search to find awards they qualify for; as this one asks for volunteer experience, there are dozens of awards out there for those who help out in their local communities.

Prize:

Five $2,500 renewable scholarships

Eligibility:

Applicants must be enrolled in a public high school in Oregon, on track to graduate the coming  June, have a 3.0 GPA showing marked effort, improvement, or success, have succeeded in spite of hardships (the scholarship provider lists disability, personal tragedy, and poverty as examples), have volunteered or participated in other altruistic activities, and have financial need.

Deadline:

September 17, 2010

Required Material:

Those interested in this scholarship have the option of applying online or printing out an application and submitting it by mail. The application will ask for a personal and academic letter of recommendation, and a personal statement of between 500 and 1,000 words. Applicants will also be asked to provide a copy of their high school transcript and a copy of their parents’ most recent federal income tax return.

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Scholarships Are Not Just For High School Students

How To Get Aid While In College

Aug 3, 2010

by Derrius Quarles

Many college students end their first year of college with a significant amount of loans and out-of-pocket cost, forcing them to make the decision of either finding another school for the subsequent year or pausing their college education altogether. However, a mistake that can be made by students receiving loans or that have out-of-pocket costs is believing that undergraduate scholarships are not available for those already in college.

What all college students should know is that there are a plethora of scholarships and financial aid available exclusively to undergraduate students. These funds can be awarded based on many things, including community service done in high school in college, family income, the amount of loans used for college, and your academic record while in college. The places you should start looking for scholarships are the financial aid office at your college, where most schools post flyers or have a simple handout that list scholarships that are available for students at the school. The next step is to go directly to your financial aid advisor and ask if he/she knows of any financial aid sources that are available for you.

If you are unsuccessful in finding any opportunities via flyers, handouts, or asking your financial aid advisor, you should schedule a meeting with the director of financial aid at your school and ask them about ways of lowering your loan amounts and out-of-pocket costs. During this meeting you must remember that many students come into the office every day in need of aid so you must stress how important it is for you to receive additional aid if you are going to continue your education. The director may be able to tell you about grants and scholarships that are available to you. The reason you should tap into your school's resources for financial aid first is because most of the money your school has in its budget for financial aid will be available at the beginning of the school year. The longer you wait to investigate, the smaller your chances of receiving additional funds. The key thing to remember is the earlier you inquire, the better.

After you have tapped into all of your school's resources, you should then start your personal search for scholarships. The best place to start this search is of course Scholarships.com. When using the Scholarships.com database you should narrow your search to scholarships and grants available to undergraduate students. After you have done this you should find all of the scholarships you meet the requirements for and you should start your scholarship list. Almost all of these scholarships or grants will require you to write personal statements and obtain one or more recommendations from professors. If you want more information about writing personal statements and essays or getting your recommendations for scholarship applications take a look at my previous entries, "So You Want To Set Yourself Apart Huh?" (personal statements) and "A Strong Foundation Means a Strong Application" (recommendations). These entries will go into deeper detail about how to get great recommendations and how to write personal statements that will set you apart from other applicants.

Besides personal statements and recommendations, any scholarship you apply for as an undergrad will rely heavily on your academic record. This means that doing well in your classes and having a strong GPA will greatly increase your chances of being awarded most scholarships and grants. Your search for financial aid while in college may be a rough one, but it is definitely a search worth making. If you utilize the information listed above you too will soon realize that scholarships are not just for high school students.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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NRAEF Scholarships for First-Time Freshmen

Aug 2, 2010

by Scholarships.com Staff

The field of culinary arts isn’t easy to break into. Those students who do excel in the kitchen or are interested in paying their dues to work in the food service industry are then eligible for a number of scholarship opportunities to reward them for their talents and hard work.

This week’s Scholarship of the Week opportunity comes from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. The organization’s scholarships for first-time freshmen consist of $2,500 awards to go toward the costs of a food service-related program. The awards are merit-based, not need-based, so you will be judged on the quality of your application. If you’re already in college, the organization also awards scholarships to undergraduates; the deadline for those awards is in March.

Prize:

$2,500

Eligibility:

Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent resident, first-time freshmen (including graduating high school seniors or GED graduates and high school graduates enrolling in college for the first time), and be accepted and planning to enroll in an accredited culinary school, college or university.

Deadline:

August 18, 2010

Required Material:

Applicants are able to apply online through the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation. As part of their application, applicants will be asked to complete two essays, one a personal statement on their ultimate career goals in the restaurant or food service industry, and the other on the experience or person that most influenced that applicant’s decision to pursue a career in this field. Applicants should also provide one to three letters of recommendation.

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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MALDEF Law School Scholarship Program

Jul 26, 2010

by Scholarships.com Staff

Law school is by no means inexpensive. If you’ve taken the leap to ace that LSAT and get yourself into a law school program, you should know there are scholarships out there for you future lawyers. If you plan on using that law degree to better your community or for humanitarian purposes, there may be even more funding available. This week’s Scholarship of the Week from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) targets law school students interested in the civil rights of Latinos.

While the MALDEF Law School Scholarship Program isn’t a minority scholarship, you will need to prove that you’ve already shown your commitment to the Latino community or have a plan to do so once you’ve completed law school. If this doesn’t describe you, know there are plenty of law and criminal justice scholarships out there for you to explore to help you cover the costs of your degree.

Prize: Scholarships come in varying amounts, but the maximum is $7,000 annually.

Eligibility: This award is open to students who will be enrolled full-time in an accredited law school in the United States in 2010-2011. Applicants must have a commitment to advancing the civil rights of Latinos through law. Financial need, past achievements, and the potential for achievement will be considered.

Deadline: September 30, 2010

Required Material: Those interested in the scholarship must complete the MALDEF Law School Scholarship Application (available for download online) and submit a current resume, personal statement that details a history of service to the Latino community and the applicant’s background, and two letters of recommendation. Current law school students should also submit their most recent law school transcripts.

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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AmeriGlide Achiever Scholarship

Deadline Approaching for this Week's Scholarship of the Week

Jul 19, 2010

by Scholarships.com Staff

One of the more popular scholarship categories is “scholarships by type,” or awards based on specific student characteristics, like a commitment to community service or a passion for poetry. An expanding category has been scholarships for students with disabilities. As access to education in general has improved for students with disabilities over the years, so has the access to resources that can help pay for those educations. This week’s Scholarship of the Week is the AmeriGlide Achiever Scholarship, which targets students who use wheelchairs.

As part of this scholarship, you’ll be asked to write an essay on one of two topics provided by AmeriGlide. The first asks which area of your school you think would benefit from improved accessibility and how you would improve it; the second asks which area of your school already has excellent accessibility and why. If you don’t fit the criteria for this award but feel you’d be eligible for a different disability scholarship, browse through the information we have posted on scholarships of that type or try a scholarship search. There are awards out there based on any and all student characteristics. It’s up to you to put in the work to seek them out and apply!

Prize: $500

Eligibility: Applicants must be enrolled at an accredited two- or four-year college, use a manual or electric wheelchair, have a minimum 3.0 GPA, and be a legal resident of the United States or hold a valid student visa.

Deadline: July 31, 2010

Required Material: Those interested in the scholarship must complete an online application form, which includes an essay of a minimum of 500 words on one of the prompts provided by the scholarship provider. Applicants will also be able to submit two character references once they complete their online applications.

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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The Resolve to Evolve Scholarship

Deadline for this Scholarship of the Week is July 31. Apply now!

Jul 12, 2010

by Scholarships.com Staff

We’re not only here to match you with outside awards through our free scholarship search. We’re also here to offer you 14 ways of our own to help meet your college costs. In addition to our 13 Area of Study Scholarships, where we award one scholarship per month based on the field of study you mark off in your user profiles, we also award five annual $1,000 scholarships based on how you respond to essay prompts that we provide. This week’s Scholarship of the Week is our Resolve to Evolve Scholarship, and the deadline is fast approaching.

The annual Resolve to Evolve Scholarship is an essay contest that allows applicants to come up with workable solutions and criticisms to questions and issues we put before them. This year, applicants are asked to discuss how we as a country could better meet President Obama’s goals of getting the United States to become the most educated country in the world by 2020, and how technology and the Internet have changed the way institutions of higher education operate.

If you’re picked as a winner, you won’t only have an additional $1,000 to cover your college costs, we’ll forward your essay to officials who may be able to act on your suggestions. Pretty cool, right? Check out our Official Rules for more information on applying if you’re interested, and make sure to follow the directions closely. You won’t be considered otherwise!

Prize: A total of five scholarships in the amount of $1,000 each will be awarded.

Eligibility: Applicants must be 19 or older. You must be a currently enrolled full-time undergraduate or a full- or part-time graduate or non-traditional/returning student who will be enrolled at a U.S. Department of Education accredited college, university or vocational school at the time the prize is awarded. (Prizes will be awarded in November 2010.) Graduate and non-traditional/returning students may be enrolled part-time.

Deadline: July 31, 2010

Required Material: All applicants must choose one of two essays to respond to in 300 to 800 words, in addition to a short answer response on why attending college is important to you, your academic and career goals, and what your biggest obstacle has been in your desire to attend college. Applicants must also submit a letter of reference and a proof of enrollment, such as an official/unofficial transcript, printout of courses, or a letter of enrollment or admittance from your college or university.

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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American Legion Baseball Scholarship

Jun 28, 2010

by Scholarships.com Staff

Now that baseball season’s in full swing, it may be the perfect time for you baseball players out there to consider how to supplement your financial aid packages. Baseball scholarships are more common that many other sports scholarships, and the American Legion is one of the biggest providers of awards in the sport. If you’re on an American Legion team, make sure you’re aware of this week’s Scholarship of the Week—the American Legion Baseball Scholarship.

Although applicants must be nominated for this award by their team managers or coaches, it doesn’t hurt to know what you’re eligible for if you think you excel in not only the sport, but in the other qualities lauded by the Legion: leadership, service, discipline, and impressive academics. If you think you’d be a good candidate, consider talking to your team leaders to make sure they’re aware of the awards available and that you’re interested in getting your name out there for scholarship contention. If you’re not on an American Legion team but are decent on the diamond, know that there are numerous awards out there targeting baseball players.

Prize:

Award amounts vary, but the Legion awards more than $20,000 in scholarships annually. Scholarship awards also vary based on annual interest in the award.

Eligibility:

Qualified applicants must have graduated from high school and be on a 2010 roster of a team affiliated with an American Legion post.

Deadline:

July 15, 2010

Required Material:

Those interested in this scholarship must be nominated by any team manager or head coach of an American Legion-affiliated team. Players must then complete a scholarship application, which includes letters of recommendation and a certification form. The three letters of recommendation required as part of this scholarship application are an important part of the award process.

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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College Hopes New Fishing Scholarship Will Lure Applicants

Jun 25, 2010

by Scholarships.com Staff

Gone fishin’ this weekend? That hobby could net you more than a delicious bass. You could be eligible for some scholarship money, as well.

An article in The New York Times this week took a look at two college freshman from Tennessee attending Bethel University who both received athletic scholarships for their talents in competitive bass fishing. According to the article, they were the first students in the country to receive award money for the sport, with another teammate, a female this time, joining them in the scholarship pool this week.

Administrators at the college said they wanted to introduce a scholarship for the sport based on the interest in bass fishing across the country—there are about 220 college bass-fishing clubs in the United States—and the potential to use that surge as a recruiting tool for Bethel. According to the article, administrators had to first recognize bass fishing as an official sport at the college, and then set aside the budget and personnel to lead the program. The awards given range from $1,000 to $4,000, and require that students be not only good at bass-fishing, but successful in their academic lives as well.

Bass fishing’s growth in popularity has led to a growth in college clubs devoted to the sport, along with recognition from state groups. The Illinois High School Athletic Association recognized the sport last year, with 225 schools currently competing in various tournaments. The University of Florida’s team has done so well that they’ve won thousands of dollars to keep the club afloat; the Florida team also passed $50,000 on to the university, which will be used for a scholarship fund for low-income students. If you're not all that interested in fishing but excel in another sport, the point of this story is that there's probably sports scholarship money out there for you.

In others sports news, budget concerns on the community college level have led a number of the two-year institutions to cut back on their athletic offerings. A recent article in Inside Higher Ed focuses on the situation in Mississippi, where the governor has suggested that the state’s community colleges should either shut down sports programs completely or target certain sports for elimination to improve the budget picture there. Three schools have already taken his advice, although the most expensive sports to offer, like football, have remained. According to the article, Mississippi is a football state, and eliminating even junior college football would affect enrollment at the schools. Currently, the NJCAA has 511 member institutions.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Barona Sustainable Environment Scholarship

Scholarship of the Week Open to "Green" Majors

Jun 21, 2010

by Scholarships.com Staff

The health of the environment is on many people’s minds these days as the BP spill continues to stream oil into the Gulf. If your interest in Earth’s natural resources goes so far as to determine your chosen field of study, this week’s Scholarship of the Week could be for you. The Barona Sustainable Environment Scholarship from the Barona Band of Mission Indians and Barona Resort and Casino is open to California students majoring in horticulture studies, turf grass management, natural resources management, and the environmental sciences.

If you don’t quite fit the criteria for this one but are entering college with an environmental streak, make sure you explore other green scholarships. Scholarship money isn’t only awarded to students coming to college looking to major in a “green” field of study, but to those interested in other environmentally-friendly activities, such as community service or advocacy work related to the environment.

Prize:

Four finalists will receive a $1,000 scholarship; one out of those four will be chosen for an additional $1,000 following a series of personal interviews.

Eligibility:

This award is open to students majoring in horticulture studies, turf grass management, natural resources management, and the environmental sciences. Students must be attending accredited colleges or universities in Southern California full-time, have completed at least 30 semester units, and boast GPAs of 3.0 or higher.

Deadline:

July 15, 2010

Required Material:

Students interested in this scholarship must complete applications from the scholarship provider and submit transcripts from all colleges attended, two letters of recommendation, one character reference letter, and a copy of their last two federal tax returns or most recent financial aid forms. The application will ask for brief essays on educational and professional career goal and objectives and other questions based on the applicant’s chosen field of study.

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Safety Scholars Video Contest by Bridgestone

Scholarship of the Week Targets Aspiring Filmmakers

Jun 14, 2010

by Scholarships.com Staff

If you have a talent for video and already make short films for fun, you should look into video contest scholarships that could reward you with more than a reel of your movie-making abilities. This week’s Scholarship of the Week is one such award, offering $5,000 to those who come up with the most creative clips on promoting auto safety.

The Safety Scholars Video Contest by Bridgestone asks applicants to come up with short clips to serve as public service announcements on auto safety and what the youth set can do to drive more safely. Winners don’t only get scholarships; their videos run on television stations across the country, which could give you quite a bit of exposure. Don’t limit yourself if this video contest isn’t for you though. There are a number of awards out there for you aspiring filmmakers, and will probably be less competitive than awards that ask for a more traditional but less involved application. If you’re interested in this one though, get that camera out and start filming. (June is National Safety Month, after all.)

Prize:

Three finalists will receive $5,000 scholarships, payable to the accredited university, college, or trade school at which the winner is enrolled full-time. (Eligible high school students will receive their scholarships at the time of their enrollment in an institution of higher education post-graduation.) Those three finalists will also receive tickets to the Chicago Auto Show in February 2011, complete with round-trip air travel and accommodations.

Eligibility:

The video contest is open to legal permanent U.S. residents ages 16 through 21 who are enrolled full-time in accredited secondary, college level, or trade schools (or have plans to do so after their high school graduations).

Deadline:

July 1, 2010

Required Material:

Applicants are judged based on the concept/idea, effectiveness, and creativity of their video entries. Entries must be original videos of 25 to 55 seconds in length on one or more issues or topics related to auto safety and improving auto safety for drivers ages 16 through 21. Applicants must also complete an official entry form on Bridgestone’s Safety Scholars website.

Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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