Recently, A+ introduced the first recipient of its $500 Tests and the Rest Counselor Select Scholarship, Adam Powley. With the typical high cost of college, and costs skyrocketing even higher, can small scholarships really make a difference?
Benefits of Small Scholarships
Why bother with the hours required to research and fill out applications for small scholarships when they won’t even cover less than one percent of tuition? Simple. Smaller scholarships require less work than any part-time or summer job, are often easier to win compared to more substantial scholarships, and can ultimately reduce stress and boost confidence.
To better understand the value of small scholarships, try thinking of applying (and winning) these scholarships as analogous to having a part-time job. Let's say you spend an hour applying for a $100 scholarship. If you win the scholarship, you have essentially earned yourself $100 an hour. On the other hand, at a part-time job, you may only be able to earn $10 an hour. Of course, you're probably thinking that the math only works in your favor if you win all of the scholarships to which you apply. While it's true that scholarship rewards are far from guaranteed, even if you were only able to win 25 percent of the scholarships to which you apply, you are still going to come close to matching whatever you may have earned in the same amount of time at a part-time job.
In fact, another benefit of small scholarships is that they are less competitive, increasing your chances of getting some money to put towards your college education. Your odds of winning a small scholarship are often better because they are offered by local, regional, or state organizations. When you’re not up against a national applicant pool, then there is more of an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
If you are spending your time applying for smaller scholarships that you are more likely to win, then you are going to see a greater return for your investment compared to larger scholarships. In return, these scholarships not only pay off financially but also emotionally. Many small scholarships are tied to specific fields of study, volunteering, and other positive personal attributes. Choosing which scholarships to apply to and actually completing the applications, which often require students write an essay or personal statement, gives students an opportunity to assess their pasts and deliberate on their futures.
Applying for Small Scholarships
The process of securing smaller scholarships requires a personal and proactive approach. In "How to Get the Scholarships You Need to Avoid Debt," Ransom Patterson shares his recommendations:
- Start applying for scholarships at the same time you apply to college in order to ensure that you are able to meet crucial deadlines without getting overwhelmed.
- Treat applying for scholarships like a job by setting aside work hours every week.
- Keep applying for scholarships in college because scholarships aren’t just for incoming freshmen.
- Brush up on your essay writing skills because most scholarship applications require an essay or personal statement.
- Know your scholarship deadlines so you don’t cram a month’s work of well-paced and thoughtful application preparation into one or two haphazard hours before the due date.
- Ready yourself for rejection, but don’t get discouraged. While it’s unlikely you’ll get every scholarship, the process is a worthwhile learning experience.
Patterson also provides students with suggestions for how to find small scholarships:
- Visit the college's financial aid office and talk to your school counselor for his or her recommendations.
- Know the scholarships your college offers so you can gather materials, make travel plans if an interview or audition is required, and complete all requirements on time.
- Look for local scholarships available to students who live in your state, live in your neighborhood, attend your high school, and more.
- Investigate community service, religious, and local business scholarships that match your activities and interests.
- Ask people to nominate you for scholarships.
- Find scholarships related to your personal background whether it’s your race, culture, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation.
- Find scholarships related to your major.
In addition to the above advice, there are several websites available to research scholarships, including FastWeb and CareerOneStop. With these tips and resources, college hopefuls can begin the rewarding scholarship application process.
The cost of college can add up quickly. Fortunately, smaller scholarships can add up too, offering relief from debt and stress. For those who are still on the fence, remember that college is about taking risks and taking advantage of opportunities. So, approach applying for small scholarships with the same open mind you should have during the college search and application process—the focus of our final installment of the A+ Scholarship Series.
College admissions testing can be confusing and overwhelming. We’re here to help. We guide you through each step of the process, from choosing the right test, to designing a custom plan, to achieving your goals. At A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, our practices are based on the latest developments in educational theory and research. We have an excellent team of tutors who can help you with standardized testing, executive functioning, or achievement in any other school subject. If you want to find out more about our services, our Client Service Directors Susan Ware and Joelle Faucette can be reached at 215-886-9188.