With a tight economy and an unpredictable future, many people are looking for alternatives to paying for college out of their own pockets. More and more students are applying for scholarships to help ease the large financial burden. ClassesandCareers.com, an online resource to help students and prospective students outline their educational and career goals, offers a few tips to keep in mind when considering scholarships:

  1. Apply early and apply often. Deadlines for scholarships are throughout the year. Many deadlines are in March or October; so it’s not a bad idea to plan ahead.
  2. Read eligibility requirements carefully. If you have a question about any of the requirements, it is best to contact the scholarship sponsor before spending time on an application.
  3. Consider local scholarships. Most students only apply for university or national scholarships. Local businesses are often looking to give out scholarships. These scholarships will be less competitive and often look at things beyond your GPA, like community service, job experience or financial need.
  4. Grade point average matters. Your parents are right. Your GPA from your freshmen year through your senior year will be important. Don’t be afraid of AP classes to help you boost your GPA.
  5. Find a way to stand out. Get involved in extracurricular activities including sports, community service, drama, music, art, or religious groups. Apply for internships that are relevant to your major. The experience will put you above other candidates. It is never too late to do things that will make you a better scholarship applicant.
  6. Write a compelling essay. Many scholarships require some sort of written essay along with the application. Use this as an opportunity to make yourself stand out. Have a parent, friend, or teacher critique the essay before submitting.
  7. Look for gender-, ethnicity-, or major-specific scholarships. A lot of scholarship committees are looking for specific types of students. If you want to get into education or medicine, there are many scholarships offered. Also, there are numerous minority and female focused scholarships, so take advantage of them.

If you are ready to use scholarship money to return to school, visit ClassesandCareers.com and fill out their form to enroll in an accredited school. A financial aid counselor will help you find the right scholarships.

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