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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

More on Scholarships

In my twenties I had to buy books, see academic counselors, etc, to get the 411 on upcoming scholarships, and oftentimes the deadline had passed or was so far in the future you had to wait to apply.  Today there are websites devoted to looking up scholarships for you and they even send you a reminder email when the application deadline is approaching.  These are free websites but since someone must pay the bills, they are sponsored by schools and organizations that put advertisements on the sites.  These are only mildly annoying and, I guess, a necessary evil.

My two favorite sites are Fastweb.com and Cappex.com.  They are both easy to use and confidential with all your information.  You fill out the profile and they look up possible scholarship matches.  Then you look over the application requirements and either say "I will apply", "Doesn't fit", "Applied", "Will not apply", etc.  The site files these for future use, like next year, you will know if you applied or if it didn't fit your profile exactly.  There are many more sites than just these two but I find two are all I can juggle and keep up with school projects as well.  Each one will lead to another and another.  Those will be up to the individual to accept or not.

On both of these sites school ads pop up and you must look for the "No, thanks" button at the bottom of the page.  These ads are mildly annoying but not insupportable.  I have found dozens of scholarships through these sites to apply for, and won 4 from each site.  I have to appreciate the work that goes into building and maintaining informational sites like these.  They are invaluable.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

For the past two years I have been pursuing my education.  I finished my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in June and now I'm working toward my Master's Degree in Illustration.  Because of this I have been looking into scholarships to help with the cost.  I wonder if anyone knows the hoops that people have to jump through to find decent scholarships to apply for.  Many of what they are calling "scholarships" are nothing more than raffles or drawings where the applicant puts in all sorts of personal information and must endure the clogging of the email channels from then on.

In applying for so many of these scholarships, and having won a few, I can give a little valuable information.  There are several kinds of scholarships that people applying should be aware of.

1.  The Scholarship Contest:  is really a contest where you must submit more than an essay, such as a photo, video, or design, and which is usually judged by popular opinion (social media) as well as a judge or committee.  It's only a scholarship because the money, if won, is sent directly to the school not to the recipient.

2.  The Promotion:  is not really a scholarship at all but usually does have monies sent to a school and not a recipient.   The promotion requires the applicant to buy something (such as a book), or to give 5 or more friend's addresses and information.  This kind is more of a raffle or drawing.  The chances of winning a promotion are so slim you have a better chance of being struck by lightening or winning the lottery.

3.  The Essay Contest:  is the most common scholarship where a certain grade point average is required along with an essay of varying lengths.  The applicant is chosen mostly on the quality of the essay.

4.  The Scholarship:  is the least common scholarship because it is judged on the basis of financial need and grade point average taken together.  Sometimes an essay is requested as well, but not always.

Most scholarships are contests that happen only once a year, but there are a few that repeat monthly.  Most of the best scholarships require essays from 250 words to 1000 words.  Many want to know "how you will be changed for the better because of your education,"or "a positive experience," or "a person who most influenced you."  It helps to have a few sample essays already written during times of less stress so that when a deadline comes up you don't have to scramble or divide your attentions between these essays and your school work.  I find that Winter and Summer Breaks are the best time to prepare essays to use for contests.  Then I can edit, change or tweak them to fit the particular contest I am entering.