Any high school student who has contemplated applying to college has probably had to consider the cost. University educations are increasingly expensive, especially at four-year colleges. For students who are worried that they might not be able to afford the cost of attending college, seeking out scholarship opportunities is a great idea.

What Is a Scholarship Opportunity?

A scholarship is loosely defined as money given to students for education that they do not have to pay back. This is different from a loan or an aid package, which often requires you to either pay the money back or work for the school in order to pay off your financial aid. Scholarships are grants that you do not have to pay back. Some scholarships are given by the school to which you are applying based on either athletic, academic or artistic merit. Other scholarships are granted by outside institutions.

Scholarship opportunities can vary widely and can be based on a tremendous variety of criteria. There are scholarships that are granted by wealthy corporations that may have an interest in fostering the education of students who have shown promise in disciplines related to their overall mission. Other scholarships are given by nonprofit institutions or organizations with the express goal of helping those who come from a particular background or who are pursuing a particular course of study.

Where Can Students Learn About Scholarship Opportunities?

When researching possible scholarship opportunities, a great place to start is with your high school guidance counselor. He will likely have a number of resources for you to examine. These can be helpful in terms of helping you select the schools to which you should apply that will be able to give you the scholarship money you need.

Beyond scholarships awarded by the schools themselves, your guidance counselor may be able to help direct you toward independently granted scholarships that pertain to your particular skill set or interest. If you are an athlete, there are likely a number of scholarships that sporting goods and health and fitness organizations award each year. If you are in the arts or sciences, you are likely to find similar opportunities related to those disciplines.

For students who are considering a particular career, a good choice is to research companies or organizations that work in that space. Nearly all corporations have a philanthropic presence, and many of them dedicate scholarship money to helping students who could potentially join their workforce after graduation.

What Kinds of Scholarships Are There?

Scholarships granted to students directly by colleges or universities are the most well-known kind of scholarships. Generally, students apply for these by simply applying to the university. Once their application is reviewed, if the administration thinks that they are strong enough in a particular discipline and would like to have them attend their school, they may offer scholarship money as an incentive to bring them to their school and not lose them to a competitor.

Corporate-sponsored scholarships and scholarships donated by nonprofit organizations are another example. Often, large corporations like Hewlett-Packard or Nike or Apple will have large scholarships available to students who apply. These scholarships may not be devoted to students studying any particular discipline but rather are offered to students who can demonstrate the reason they should be granted a scholarship. Students will often be required to write an essay or otherwise explain why they believe themselves deserving of the scholarship.

The third category is scholarships that concern identity, background and life experience. Students who are from a particular ethnic or cultural background or who grew up in a certain part of the world may be eligible for certain scholarships. There are a number of online scholarship directories that are compiled each year so students can more easily search for the opportunities that are most appropriate for them.

Related Articles