HOW TO Obtain Scholarships

By Lindsey Rodrian

It’s no secret that college costs are high, and utilizing scholarship opportunities is an excellent way to offset the financial burden.
Unlike loans, scholarships do not need to be repaid, and there are a plethora of opportunities available to students who need support in pursuing higher education. The trick is to take advantage of these opportunities to the best of your ability.

Scholarships come in many shapes and sizes. Some are merit-based, while others focus on particular groups of people. Educate yourself on scholarships available by researching local, state, and national options. “When doing a Google search be specific, do not just Google ‘scholarships’, ie. ‘scholarships for women’, or ‘scholarships for majors in international studies’, etc.,” suggests Dr. Jose Cardenas, a counselor at Health Careers Academy High School in Stockton. “Stay away from ‘sweepstake scholarships’ and apply to a variety of scholarships. Scholarships will not just fall on your lap. You will have to put in some work.”

Meet with your high school counselor for guidance, or contact the financial aid office at your dream college and request additional information.

Health Careers Academy provides an expansive Scholarship Resource List that informs on specific scholarships available for women, students with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community, and more.

Get Organized
Scholarship application processes involve many moving pieces, from forms and deadlines, to essays, recommendation letters, and more. Once you’ve identified the scholarships you’d like to apply for, create a spreadsheet that outlines each scholarships specific requirements and deadlines—as they all vary! Be sure to thoroughly read through and note each individual requirement.

Gather Needed Materials
Common scholarship requirements include a resume, personal statement, recommendation letter, high school transcripts, and more. Take time to properly assemble and organize all pieces for each individual application. Utilize online tools or resources at your school to ensure a quality resume and statement. Examples and inspiration are available online.

“Tailor your essays to each scholarship!” urges AnneLisa Butcher, a counselor at Health Careers Academy. “Make them unique as the reviewers are reading hundreds of essays. You might be able to utilize a previous essay, but make sure to tailor it to the specific scholarship. Do not submit the same exact essay for each scholarship application.”

Ask a teacher, counselor, parent, or friend to review your application and essay. Another set of eyes will be sure to catch errors you may have missed! This process isn’t exactly easy, and you don’t have to do it alone!

Apply & Follow Up
Treat your scholarship process like a part time job. You have to invest time, effort, and be committed to the entire application process. Dr. Cardenas suggests following up within a week of submission, to check on your application status.

For More Information:
Health Careers Academy

931 E. Magnolia St., Stockton
(209) 933-7360