One time, I ran a little experiment. I invited a friend over so that I could watch her attempt to find scholarships. At the time, she was a freshman in college with a GPA around 3.0. After a brief argument about how I always use her as a guinea pig for my experiments, we started.
"Go find scholarships" I said.
"Ummm, where do I start?" she replied.
I gestured the traditional "I don't know" shoulder shrug, and she quickly got the point of this whole experiment.
If she was even remotely representative of the typical college student, then the following tips should help you avoid these three scholarship search mistakes she made.
1. Using Just One Search Technique
There are many different techniques to search for scholarships, ranging from using scholarship search engines to Googling for scholarships. To find scholarships successfully, you're going to have to use more than one of them.
For the entire hour of our experiment, my subject stayed on one scholarship search engine. "If I can't find a scholarship here, then what are the chances that I'll find one somewhere else?" she said.
Think about it like this: What would you do if I asked you to find Abraham Lincoln's favorite hobbies and you couldn't find that information on the first website? You'd probably leave and check other websites until you found the information. Scholarships are no different. Use every technique, website, and resource at your disposal.
2. Worrying That The Deadline Has Passed
Scholarships are like your birthday: They come around every year.
Don't throw away a perfectly awesome scholarship just because the deadline has passed. Save it, put it on your calendar, and do whatever it is you have to do to remember to apply next year.
Now, if the scholarship has some requirement that will disqualify you next year (i.e., year in school, age, and location), then throwing it away is fair.
3. Being Scared By Eligibility Requirements
Just because a scholarship says that they are looking for "determined," "exceptional," and even "outstanding" applicants doesn't mean that they will get them. Remember, you are only competing against the other students that apply—not every student in the world.
Some of the best and brightest students in the world do not apply for scholarships. You could very well be the most exceptional student that sends in an application.
Don't Lose Hope!
Those were the big three challenges standing between my guinea pig and her scholarships. By the end of the experiment, I was able to find nine scholarships that she could apply for and feel good about. Sometimes the biggest barrier standing between success and failure is perspective.