Obtaining scholarships can help lessen the financial burden of college, but don’t just think of them as free money. Some opportunities you may be aware of when you’re applying for the scholarships, but receiving the full benefits of a scholarship can require you to take the initiative to inquire yourself. Take the time to apply for scholarships while you’re in high school so you can reap the many benefits during college.
Here are some ways to make the most out of receiving scholarships:
For some scholarships, you may be told exactly who donated the funds for your scholarship. It is nice to know where your scholarships is specifically coming from, as you can use your donor as a form of motivation to do well in college. Be sure to send your donor a thank you card or ask the organization that handles the funds to pass your message along. Your donor may offer to take you out for lunch or coffee. They will likely want to learn more about you so they can get to know the person their donation is assisting.
If the donor of your scholarship is an organization, you are still able to create a useful connection. The company providing the funds likely is related to your career or academic interests as scholarships are often related to the company’s mission. If you’re studying to be a doctor and your donor is a medical company, ask if they offer any internship opportunities or if they know of any other intern opportunities in the medical field. They will already know that you are a student worthy of winning one of their scholarships, so having that honor should give you an advantage when it comes to other programs they offer.
Connections with Other Scholars
For national scholarships, such as Questbrige National College Match and the Gates Millennium Scholarship, friendships start to form even before the results are announced. Through the use of Facebook groups, applicants can connect with other high achieving students and receive application advice from past applicants. This can also lead to learning about other scholarships or opportunities for other programs.
After the scholarship has been won, students can benefit from having new friends with similar interests or characteristics. If the scholarship is issued by the college you attend, getting to know your fellow scholars will create a smaller community within your school. Your school might hold special gatherings or workshops just for recipients of the scholarship. One of the scholarships of which I am a recipient holds events throughout the year. Some are focused on specific student interests such as business or STEM, while others are just for the freshman group of scholars. If your school doesn’t offer this and you wish there were more opportunities to network with fellow scholars, turn it into a leadership opportunity and ask to plan events. Connecting with alumni of the scholarships can also be beneficial. They may also know of opportunities available in your field of interest or information about programs at your school worth looking into based on their past experience.
If you’re receiving a scholarship directly issued by your college, there will be at least one person who oversees the funds. Outside scholarships can also offer special advisors. I am a recipient of a scholarship that assigns each scholar an advisor in addition to the advisor they have at their college. Advisors can help with situations such as helping students find necessary resources on their campus, suggesting summer programs to apply for, and filling out financial aid forms. One more advisor means one more person to support you during your college years.
Financial support can play a role in a successful college experience, but don’t forgot to search out the other opportunities available to enrich your experience. If you’re unaware of any additional opportunities a scholarship offers beyond financial support, don’t hesitate to ask. Taking the initiative will benefit not only you, but also your fellow scholars.