Tips for Scholarship Seekers

Where to Look for Scholarships
Becoming a Strong Candidate for Scholarships
Application Essentials

Where to Look for Scholarships

There is no magical source that pulls together all scholarship information.  There are also no assurances that your search will yield dollars.  Winning scholarship support is a mark of distinction because it is difficult and competitive.  However, it can still be worth the effort required to seek scholarships.  The mission of most scholarship programs is to provide money to students (typically by criteria that support the goals of those programs).  And many students win scholarships as a result.

Finding scholarships that match your particular goals and credentials is a process that requires time and effort.  You may peruse a lot of incompatible scholarships before you find one that fits.  Try to enjoy the challenge.  Remember that others are confronted with the same landscape. 

  • The college-specific pages of this site offer a number of scholarship links that might be helpful to you.
  • Some books offer listings of scholarships.  Some are available in my office and some are available at Hale Library.  There are also books you can purchase from various vendors of printed material... I would recommend you pursue free options first though.   
  • There are websites that offer scholarship searches.  www.fastweb.comand the College Answer site (sponsored by Sallie Mae) are two of the more popular engines.  
  • Never pay for internet searches.  Fin Aid offers some good advice on avoiding scholarship scams.
  • Many times your department will post scholarship information on a Departmental Bulletin Board.  Scholarship notices may also get disseminated to your faculty advisor or over a departmental listserv. 
  • Professional organizations and societies in your field may offer scholarships to support promising individuals heading towards that vocation.
  • Check with institutions associated with your religious practice.  Check with community and social organizations with which you and/or members of your family are affiliated.
  • Non-Traditional Student Services offers lots of good information for "non-traditional" students: those who are married, have children, have already celebrated their 25th birthday or have returned to school after an extended absence.
  • There is a Scholarship Information display case in the foyer of Fairchild Hall.
  • Consult with honorary societies to which you belong like Phi Kappa Phi or Golden Key.
  • Make sure and check with those who employ you and/or your parents.

Becoming a Strong Candidate for Scholarships

Seek an undergraduate experience that maximizes your personal, intellectual and professional growth.  You become a strong scholarship candidate by striving towards meaningful ends.

  • Pursue excellence in challenging classes.  Good grades are prerequisite for scholarship success, but the best students seek more than the grade.  Train yourself to thirst for knowledge.  Take challenging and diverse courses outside your major.  Try not to look at your curriculum as a fence around the pasture.
  • Work on your communication skills.  Many scholarships require essays and interviews.   Take courses in the liberal arts tradition to develop your skills and to learn how to construct effective arguments.
  • Get work, internship and volunteer experience in your field.  Start looking for such experiences right after your freshman year.  Use every summer productively.
  • Make time for public service and volunteerism in areas that you care about.
  • Expand your knowledge of the people and events that are shaping your world. Read a serious newspaper and subscribe to one magazine or journal that covers matters of interest to your future profession. Participate in cultural events and attend lectures to hear fresh viewpoints.
  • Undertake travel and study abroad. Go as early as possible.
  • Get involved in interesting extracurricular activities that are meaningful to you.  There are no formulaic "best" activities.  What you do with them is more important.
  • Seek out leadership positions.  This does not necessarily mean holding offices in five different clubs.  It means becoming an active player and contributor.  Make things happen!  Start your own organization if you see an unfilled need.
  • Consider submitting essays to essay contests and competing for smaller scholarships.  These awards can function as building blocks.
  • Seek the opportunity to do undergraduate research in your field whenever possible.  This may take different forms with different majors, but it will help you prepare for your academic future and complement your classroom experience.
  • Get to know people.  Engage your professors, advisors, administrators and employers.  Give them the opportunity to share opportunities and insights with you.  They will be able to write more effective letters of recommendation for you, and you will gain the chance to discover their valuable life experience.
  • Start assessing and reflecting upon your credentials and goals.  This will help you clarify your direction in life and reveal what steps you should follow to reach those goals.  It will also help you determine which scholarships best fit your situation.
  • If it looks like you could reasonably compete, summon up the courage to go for it.  Why should you be the person who rejects your application?  When nothing is ventured, nothing is gained.  And the great success of K-Staters in competing for top scholarship is a testament to the value of making the effort.
  • Read books independently to enrich your perspective and fertilize your mind.

Application Essentials

Here are some essential tips for conducting your scholarship campaign in a professional manner.  You want to work in a manner that promotes success... both for the present and the future.

  • Start your search early to find your targets early.  Know the deadlines and plan accordingly.  Put them on your calendar.  Obtain the application right away.   
  • Respect the deadlines.  Respect the eligibility parameters.  Don't waste the time of yourself and others by applying late or applying for awards for which you don't qualify.
  • Ask your references with plenty of time to spare.  They are busy.  They will write better letters if they have sufficient time and if they know that you respect their time.    
  • Supply your references with information they need to write effectively.  For advice on gathering good references, go to our reference page.
  • Read your application materials carefully.  Would you award an individual who could not follow directions?  You might consider creating a checklist.  Check it twice or thrice before you put it in the mail.
  • Speaking of mail . . . note the difference between Postmark Deadline and Receipt Deadline .  Assume it is a Receipt Deadline if the application does not specify.  Mail your materials with some margin of error (if possible) and use a trackable courier like FedEx or UPS when necessary.
  • If you need transcripts order them far ahead.  You will find that not all institutions supply transcripts quickly (although many perform the task admirably).   Check on the status of your transcript request when appropriate.       
  • For advice on how to write scholarship essays, go to our essay page.
  • You should strive for a pristine application.  No errors of spacing, spelling, punctuation, messy correction, bad alignment, sloppy copies, etc.  Get others to read your application because you will probably miss some obvious errors.  Find readers who will read critically.  An empty "looks good" hurts more than it helps.  For more tips regarding how to polish and package your application, go to our style page.
  • Always type or word process your application if possible
  • Remember to make a copy of the final application for your records.  You may want to use elements of the application for future scholarship applications. 
  • Persevere.  Many very qualified individuals are turned down for top scholarships. The students who keep the window of opportunity open are those who continue to search for scholarships that suit them and continue to apply.