The 411 on College Scholarships

This blog post is provided by the Unigo Expert Network, a group of top education experts from across the U.S. answering questions submitted by students and parents about college admissions and succeeding after high school. To have your questions answered visit www.unigo.com/expertquestions

“I want to help my parents out with my tuition by landing as many scholarships as I can.  Where should I start, what do they usually require, and what are some crazy scholarships you know of?” – Aimee N., Baltimore, MD

Beginning the Scholarship Search and Basic Scholarship Guidelines Jennifer Evans, Counseling Department Chair, Broadneck High School

A good place to start is with your high school counseling office. Many counseling offices have a scholarship website where they post information about scholarships they receive. Also, talk to your counselor. If your counselor knows your interests, he or she may be better able to direct you to appropriate scholarships. Be sure to be thorough when completing applications and remember when applying for scholarships to meet all deadlines. If there is a portion for a counselor to complete, then you should give the counselor plenty of advance notice to complete it.

A Careful College Search Can Outweigh Scrambling for Scholarships John Frahlich, Counseling Department Chair, Hudson High School

The best advice I can give you on scholarships is that you should not be a senior during spring semester asking this question. Assuming you are a junior, remember that most scholarships awarded come directly from colleges and universities. It would be best for you to put your efforts into a college search that includes academic fit as well as financial fit. The stronger your credentials relative to other students on campus, the more likely you are to get merit-based aid. Also examine the average financial aid package awarded and consider the amount of aid that is gift aid vs. loan. Many colleges have financial aid calculators on their websites. This can be a helpful tool. Contact the financial aid experts at colleges of interest. They are your best resource!

A Good Reason to Choose a College Major: Scholarships! Lynette Mathews, Director, The College Planning Center

There are similarities between scholarship committee decisions and investment decisions. Typically, an investor will evaluate an organization’s track record and assess its future potential.  Similarly, scholarship committees review students’ past performances as well as their plans for the future. It’s tough to make a case for a strong future plan without a college major. To take the pressure off a bit, consider it your plan o’ the day – knowing that you can change your major and career objectives at any time. If you are looking to maximize scholarship opportunities, consider reflecting upon your interests and skills, exploring potential careers, and making your plan!

Get the full story from 35 more experts -- including the Dean of Admissions at University of Illinois, VP of The College Board, and more -- at www.unigo.com/expertnetwork. To send your question to our experts, visit www.unigo.com/expertquestions.

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