by Sarit Bridell

When beginning the search for one’s perfect scholarship there are a lot of things to consider. There are plenty of scholarships out there, with many different options and benefits to choose from. With all the options, it’s hard to know which scholarships are right.

Fortunately there are many great resources available to students. These can include websites, financial aid counselors and students with wisdom who have already gone through the process. Narrowing down all the scholarship options can take time but these tips and tricks can help.7027599019_ffc018d450_m

Emily Johnson, a financial aid counselor at the University of Northwestern – St Paul, gave some valuable insight into what Northwestern looks for when reviewing applicants. She also gave some tips that can be helpful to students when beginning their search.

According to Johnson, some of the best websites to find scholarships are fastweb.com, chegg.com and scholarships.com. Chegg.com dishes out hundreds of scholarships each week. These grants are personalized for each user and vary in amount. Their scholarships can range from 100 to upwards of 1,000. Fastweb.com is a unique site that offers a variety of scholarships. While many of the grants they offer reflect a students academic status, some of them can be completely unrelated. Take fastweb.com’s Tall Clubs International scholarship, which is based off of how tall the applicant is. Another peculiar one they offer is the Clowns of America International Scholarship, which requires applicants to be a clown.

Like Chegg.com, Scholarships.com finds personalized scholarships for students ranging from high school, college and graduate schools. On top of finding grants for students this website matches its users to potential colleges. Their college directory provides information on university financial aid programs, tuition fees and statistics.

It is important to research financial aid programs and also understand what they require for potential scholarships. Johnson explained a little about what Northwestern is looking for, she said: “UNW offers academic scholarships that are based on a student’s ACT/SAT scores and a student’s cumulative GPA earned in high school, so it is a good idea to keep grades up and to prepare for the ACT/SAT so that you can do well.”

downloadIn accordance with having a good GPA, many colleges offer scholarships based on extracurricular work and essays. In many cases scholarships can be offered based on volunteer work or awards such as leadership experience, internships and participation in school activities. One of the scholarships Northwestern offers is the Leadership Award. This grant is not based on GPA but on one’s ability to demonstrate leadership. This particular award is given from the admissions office.

Most scholarships require a written essay and in some cases more than one.

Because of this it is important to cultivate writing skills in high school. Spencer Yeomans, a PSEO student at Northwestern, explained how his high school writing classes helped him immensely when it came to the essay writing, “My writing and grammar classes helped me out so much. Many scholarships require you to write some type of essay, so the better a writer you are, the greater your chances are of winning the scholarship.”

Grant essays are incredibly important and can greatly affect one’s chances of winning a scholarship. It is for this reason that anyone applying should aim to impress by their writing. Yeomans also mentioned how he focused on scholarships that involve poetry because it is something he is passionate about. Finding scholarships that fit one’s passions is a great way to succeed and stand out from the crowd.

Another way to make oneself stand out is to have great letters of recommendation. These letters can really raise the chances of being granted a scholarship.  It’s important to choose wisely in regards to who will write it. Scholarships can be tricky to navigate but with the right knowledge and good resources everyone has the potential to find great ones that fit their needs well.

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