Finding the money to finance your college dream can sometimes feel like an expedition into the great unknown, and if you aren’t prepared, you might find yourself up a creek without a paddle. It takes determination and planning to successfully navigate the treacherous waters of financial aid, but not everyone is willing to take the same route. Many will try to find a shortcut; some will even leave it to fate. The strategy you choose today may ultimately determine whether you reach your final destination – college. So, what type of scholarship seeker will you be? Here are some strategies to consider and one that should probably be avoided.
1. The Great Procrastinator
If you generally put off everything until the last moment, you may fall into this category of scholarship seeker. Although there are scholarship opportunities already available to you, you’ll wait until spring of senior year to earnestly start your search. Unfortunately, you’ll find it difficult to squeeze in 20 or more scholarship applications between Advanced Placement (AP) exams, finals and other graduation preparations. You may also be at a disadvantage when it comes to making your college decision, since you may not know if you have any additional funding until later in the spring.
2. The Flash
Do you put forth the minimal effort required to do your homework? Are you the type who shoves everything in the closet to make your room look clean? Chances are you may be The Flash when it comes to finding scholarships, too. You’ll probably avoid any scholarship program that requires work or has a lengthy application. Instead, you’ll focus your attention on the sweepstakes and ‘click & submit’ scholarships where tens of thousands of other students are all hoping to win the same award. I hope you’re lucky because you’ll need lots of luck for this strategy to pay off.
3. Miss Daisy
I’m not talking about Daisy on The Dukes of Hazzard. No, I am referring to Driving Miss Daisy. If you are the type of student who tracks when your assignments are due, schedules study sessions and double checks all your work, chances are fairly good that you’ll employ these methods in your search for scholarships, too. You’ll probably get an early start (freshman year) and apply every month, learning what works and how to make the most of your time. When senior year arrives, you’ll be able to enjoy your final months in school and can pick the college you want because you made a plan and executed it to a tee. Slow and steady wins the race, or in this case…scholarships!
4. The Great Houdini
If you think you will be able to pull scholarships out of thin air, I really hope you are a great magician. Scholarship providers are not running around throwing money at students, nor do scholarships magically appear without cause. You’ll need to have some outstanding test scores and excellent grades for colleges to start offering you some serious dough, so unless you’re sitting at the top of your class, don’t expect free money to come your way without a little work. If you decide to forgo applying to scholarship programs, believing that people will just give you money out of the kindness of their hearts, keep your magic wand handy, you’re going to need it.
Regardless of which type of scholarship seeker you decide to be, the point to remember is that you have to apply in order to win. Of course, the more often you apply the more chances you will have to build a substantial college fund, which will help you keep your student loan debt to a minimum. Find what interests you and target scholarship programs in those areas; there’s no reason why you can’t have a little fun while you are applying. Just don’t become Houdini, or you may see your college choices disappear.
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