Attending college paid for with a scholarship is every student’s dream, but surely this is just for college sports students; the athletes amongst us?
This myth is not true. Even though there are significant athletic scholarships available, there are lots of other scholarships waiting for the right student and this could be you.
Scholarships for undergraduate degrees can be split down into a three key areas: subject scholarships, student scholarships and academic scholarships.
From Accounting, Business or Communications through to Law, Math and Nursing, if you have a specific subject you want to study for your major, chances are there may be an undergraduate subject scholarship for you.
You need to be very sure that this really is the degree subject you want to study for your major before you apply and not one that you may change after your freshman year once you’ve been at college for 12 months.
Many of these subject scholarships will be available for your major for your whole degree. not just the first year and cover not only tuition fees, but also help towards living costs.
American universities like many other institutions support equality, diversity and inclusivity across both their student and staff bodies.
However, attracting key minority students or those at a perceived disadvantage to study a College degree, can be a challenge which is why so many student scholarships are targeted at single mothers, students with disabilities, Native American or African American students as well as those students from foster homes, specific religious backgrounds or students who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans.
If your academic entry requirements into College are likely to be exceptionally high, then the College themselves can offer a limited set of academic scholarships to attract the absolutely brightest, gifted and talented students to study with them.
These types of merit scholarships are very limited and as such are enormously over-subscribed, but they are available and worth searching for.
Who provides these scholarships?
Scholarships can be offered by governments (state and federal) as well as colleges and universities themselves. It’s worth looking at government within both your own home state and that of the college where you’re hoping to study.
Many of the subject specific scholarships are offered by:
a) particular professional associations who want to encourage students down their specialized career path
b) large global employers who want to see a return on their scholarship investment, and ask that you work for them after completion of your degree for a set period of time. This can in some cases be for several years at least.
For example, the Foundation for IT Education offers scholarships on IT subject degrees and the National Society of Accountants offer scholarships for students studying accountancy.
The student scholarships focusing on minority and disadvantaged students are more likely to be offered by charities, who set up foundations and advocacy groups to encourage diversity and improve education and career opportunities for those unlikely to be able to achieve this without scholarships.
For example, the American Association of University Women, offers scholarships for women and Ronald McDonald house charities offers more generic scholarships.
How do I apply?
Searching for individual employers, charities and professional associations can be very time consuming and frustrating. Several national databases exist which allow you to search across the different providers, according to your very specific needs.
Always ensure you go for the free ones and even with these, please check exactly what personal details they are asking for. It’s worth checking out student scholarships, scholarships and college scholarships to name three.
Please be aware that even with the plethora of scholarships available, most of them are likely to be over-subscribed.
This means you need to spend significant time and effort on your scholarship application, the same as you do when applying to College itself, to showcase your strengths and attributes. Ask your high school teachers for support; they’re expert and practiced at this…they’ve been through this before with students in previous years.