Finding scholarships of any type can be challenging and time-consuming but the search is worthwhile. You must be organized and tenacious and realize that asking questions, making phone calls and following-up with scholarship committees are key ingredients in the scholarship process. If you can be organized and resourceful enough with your research, you can find plenty of scholarships that suit you for which to apply.
Do your research. Finding scholarships is time consuming and can be stressful, especially when wading through so many with vastly different applicant requirements. The best place to start is online, by finding databases that offer scholarships specifically to Catholic high school students, which narrows down the application pool somewhat. (See Scholarship Bulletin under resources.) A call to your local Catholic high school's office of admission, financial aid or counseling is a good place to ask where to begin.
Some scholarships through large foundations such as Nike don't stipulate where the scholarship funds must be diverted, so if you apply for larger, more competitive scholarships, you still have a chance of winning and using that money toward your Catholic high school education.
Do some legwork. Sometimes, if you call Catholic charities or businesses, they offer scholarships that they don't readily advertise, such as the Knights of Columbus. Some high schools have scholarships themselves. Do you know of Catholic newspapers, gift shops or book stores? Ask around about possibilities by calling or visiting Catholic organizations and asking if they offer scholarships. Many places will be impressed by student perseverance and tenacity in finding scholarships.
Be organized. When wading through so much information, you can always read through scholarships that you might be interested in, record where you found the information and a brief summary of the scholarship and come back to actually apply later. When you have already applied for a scholarship, record all of the information in a spreadsheet on your computer. Include the date you applied, what scholarship it was for, the amount of the scholarship or reward type, the date you should hear back by, contact information on the scholarship organization and a follow-up date if, for some reason, you don't hear from the organization. (They say that regardless of the outcome, you will hear back, which is common).
Apply for as many scholarships as you can without going too far outside of your qualification range. Some scholarships are very specific about to whom and why they reward scholarship money, so do not waste your time applying for something just to find out you are not eligible. A stellar application is one that is clearly thought out, well-presented and proves that the student correctly read and meets the requirements for the scholarship.
Take shortcuts when you can. If a scholarship asks you to submit an essay about a personal goal and another asks you to submit a general essay, re-use an essay (unless specifically directed not to do so). For paragraphs that ask "about you," keep the same stock paragraph saved in a word processing document and copy and paste it every time you need to use it. Do not make more work for yourself than is necessary. Applying for scholarships is very time consuming.
Proofread. Before you send in your application, have someone edit your essays, look over your application form and ensure that your entire application is flawless. A professional and neat application is always a wonderful first impression to the scholarship committee.
- Follow scholarship directions and stipulations exactly.
- Make a neat, professional-looking application package.
- Read the scholarship information thoroughly to ensure you fit the qualifications.
- Stay organized. If you do not, it will be difficult to know which scholarships you have found, applied for and from which you have heard back.
- If you need recommendations, ask previous teachers and school administrators with whom you have had an excellent relationship to write the recommendations. Glowing reports coming from educators mean a lot to many scholarship committees.