If your child is planning to head off to college soon, you’ll likely need a little financial help to pay for their education. Beyond checking out the school’s financial aid programs, you should also encourage your child to apply for some scholarships. There are a lot of scholarships out there tailored to academic success, interests, talents, extracurricular activities, career aspirations, location, and other factors. Here are some tips to help your student find, apply for, and secure a scholarship.

See what your prospective schools offer

When you’re considering which schools to apply to, check to see what scholarships those schools may offer that you qualify for. Understand that applying for a scholarship is often a separate process than applying for admission. Take note of what you’ll need to apply (test scores, letters of recommendation, essays required, etc.) and also any deadlines for submission.

Ask your academic advisor/career counselor

Take advantage of the expertise your advisor or school counselor offers – they often are familiar with various scholarships offered and may be able to recommend which ones might be the best fit for you. They may also be able to offer helpful advice for navigating the application process and making yourself stand out among the competition.

Do some digging (in your own network)

If you or your parents belong to any local or national organizations, clubs, churches, or are a member of a union, civic group, or work for a large corporation, you may have access to scholarships you didn’t even know existed. Check out the local PTA, Kiwanis Club, Chamber of Commerce and other foundations and organizations in your hometown to see what is offered. Because these scholarships are often only awarded on a local basis, there may be less competition for this funding.

Look online

An online search for scholarships will bring up millions of results, but if you can narrow your search to a specific area, type of scholarship, or field, you may find something worth pursuing.

Did we mention DEADLINES?

Scholarship deadlines vary depending on the scholarship – some may be due as early as the summer before your senior year. Put together a calendar that lists all your scholarship deadlines and try to submit early. If you miss a deadline, you will not be considered for that scholarship, so be vigilant!

Consider taking both the SAT and ACT

Most scholarships require test scores from either the SATs or ACTs. If you want to be prepared for either scenario and increase your chances of being awarded a scholarship, you may want to take both tests so that you are prepared to meet a variety of requirements.

Bottom line: a scholarship can be a great help in making your child’s education more affordable, so encourage them to apply and take advantage of this valuable resource.

This post is the fifth in a series, entitled: Parents’ Guide to Graduation and Beyond. We’ve designed this blog series to help parents navigate the challenges their children will face as they pursue educational and training opportunities beyond high school and enter the workforce. Please check back here for additional installments.

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