It all started with a Google search: “scholarships for college students.” In 0.29 seconds, I had in front of me a list of 2.55 MILLION links, all offering to tell me what scholarships are and what they do and how I can get them and where I can apply and so on. It was overwhelming, and the future of my education didn’t even depend on it - I was only writing a blog post!
The search had me asking: how do students and families find the time to search through all of the available scholarship information to identify relevant, useful scholarship opportunities? Here are four things I learned about the scholarship search process during my own search:
1) Scholarship mobile apps are on the rise. Students do everything on their phones, including scholarship searches! If you’re a Shark Tank fan, you’ve already heard of Scholly, a popular app that matches students with scholarships based on their eligibility. More established scholarship matching organizations are also breaking into the mobile area - Scholarships.com now has a mobile app version that allows students to search its massive scholarship database on the go. Scholarship providers are finally getting better at reaching students where they are - their phones.
2) Colleges and universities offer plenty of scholarships - if you can find them. Many schools offer unique scholarship opportunities to incoming and current students. However, these opportunities aren’t always communicated clearly to students. Finding school-specific scholarships often involves going to a school website, navigating to the college financial aid page, and completing an application that is highly specific to the school and thus not usable on other scholarship applications. For students applying to many colleges, it can be a time-consuming and tedious process to apply for school-specific scholarships.
3) The government is a key player. It shouldn’t be surprising that the federal government is actively involved in the scholarship process. After all, filling out the FAFSA is often the first step to securing money for college, and more than $150 billion in federal financial aid is provided to 13 million students each year!
4) The weird scholarship trend lives on. Searching for scholarship opportunities led me down some crazy paths - from scholarships for Catholic students with the last name “Zolp” to scholarships available to students who are proficient duck callers , there’s no need to have a 4.0 GPA and perfect SAT scores in order to get money for college. Opportunities abound for students of all shapes and sizes, as long as they know where to look.
Doesn’t the scholarship search process seem so much simpler when it’s broken down into a few bullet points? That’s because bite-size information is easier to digest than the millions of possibilities that pop up on Google. Helping students find the right resources to pay for college comes down to simplifying the information and sharing it in a way students know and understand. A text message with a link to a relevant scholarship opportunity or financial aid tip is the perfect antidote to scholarship search overload - it’s easy to read, easy to access, and easy to understand.