We’ve all heard of genius students getting full-ride scholarships to top colleges, but not many people know what a scholarship is and how to obtain it. A scholarship by definition is a grant or payment made to support a student’s college education that need not be repaid. Contrary to popular belief scholarships are quite common, in 2020 58% of American families used scholarships to help pay for college. This blog aims to help you understand what a scholarship is and how to obtain them.
US college education is very expensive, on average 4-year in-state public college costs $25,900 per year and is increasing year over year. Scholarships are becoming an important element for American students to help empower their academic and career goals by removing the financial barrier. In 2015-2016, 1.58 million recipients received a total of $1.6 billion in scholarships. Apart from helping ease the financial burden, scholarships also help students to build strong networks and look good on resumes. This will help students to have a good career start. Scholarships also positively impact society as they encourage individuals and organizations to be philanthropic. Some famous scholarships are the Fulbright U.S. scholarship, National Merit scholarship, Google scholarship, etc.
There are mainly two kinds of scholarships. The first is a merit scholarship which is given based on merit in a specific field. The field could be academics, sports, or any other special talent. The general guidelines for a merit scholarship though it can vary case to case basis would be to get good grades, stand in the top 20% of the class, good extracurricular resume, recognition from standard bodies which are renowned in the field, and lots of stamina to keep applying for multiple scholarships.
The second type of scholarship is Private scholarship which does involve merit but the eligibility criteria for a candidate can be different. Broadly private scholarships are classified into local, regional, national, workplace, and military scholarships. Only high school students are eligible for local scholarships. Students within a state or specific region are eligible for regional scholarships. Private scholarships have a defined radius in terms of who qualifies to apply for them.
Applying for a scholarship can range from just a few questions to a full-blown essay and multiple extracurricular activities. Some corporations give out “free” scholarships which just require you to fill out a small survey. Most of these corporations do this for publicity and they choose the winner based on a lottery and not merit. On the other hand, the National Merit Scholarship requires a high score on the PSAT, a well-written essay, and an impressive resume. One advantage the National Merit Scholarships holds is it looks much better on a college application.
As you can see acquiring scholarships to help build your college career is not quite as hard as it seems. With the right mindset and determination, anyone can acquire a scholarship. So if you are trying to get some money to help pay for college or trying to put some extra stuff down on your college application, you should look towards scholarships.