College is extremely expensive, and one of the best ways to afford a college degree is by getting scholarships. What with all the news lately about American students amassing tens of thousands of dollars of debt for their educations and then not finding jobs, you may be beginning to wonder if higher education is really worth the expense. The truth is that a college degree will open doors for you that a high school diploma just won't. In fact, on average, a person with just a Bachelor's degree will earn nearly a million dollars more over the course of a lifetime than a person with a high school diploma. You are right to worry about taking on a ton of student debt, though. Scholarships are money that a school, government, or organization gives you to attend school that you don't need to pay back, and are an excellent alternative to student loans as they will allow you to graduate with a degree and without loads of debt.
To find scholarships, begin by taking a personal inventory. Some scholarships are only available to people of certain races, genders, ethnicities, or religions. If you are a Catholic, Hispanic woman, for example, you will want to apply for all scholarships that are open to people who are Catholic, Hispanic, or female. Other scholarships are based upon your talents, interests, or merits. You can find scholarships for everything under the sun, from scholarships for people who come from disadvantaged communities who want to study nursing, to beauty pageants that award scholarships to winners. Decide whether you are willing to compete for your scholarship and make a list of all of your interests, talents, and personal details.
Next, you are going to have to hunt for scholarships that you are eligible for. Begin by scheduling an appointment with your high school guidance counselor. He is probably aware of things like local scholarship competitions. Do not rely entirely on someone else to do your scholarship finding work, though. Go to the library and check out scholarship handbooks. These huge, telephone book sized catalogues list scholarships for everything you can think of. Make photocopies of all of the scholarships that you believe that you may be eligible for. Finally, check with any employers or local organizations you are a member of. Lots of big corporations offer scholarships to employees or the children of employees.
When you have a list of scholarships that you plan to apply for, put together good, solid, personalized applications. Of course, most of them will want students who have good grades. You are also probably going to be required to provide evidence of extra curricular activities you participated in, volunteer work you completed, or any type of community involvement. You are probably also going to have to write personal statements describing why you want the scholarship, why you think you deserve it, and what you plan to do in college. Write a new statement for every single scholarship you apply for, tailoring it to the competition. Have at least one adult proof read your statement before you send it off. Finally, make sure that you submit completed applications before the due dates for each scholarship you apply for.