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college students

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How to find and earn scholarships 

When you consider the amount of student loan debt that the average American is in these days, it will inspire you to search out the maximum number of scholarships you can apply for. College is expensive, and the costs are only going up. While you may know that applying is smart, you may also wonder where you can even find the right scholarships. How do you know you’re not wasting your time, and which ones you qualify for? That’s where today’s tips come in…here’s how and where you can find awesome opportunities to offset those hefty student loans:

Source: Pexels

Source: Pexels

  1. Figure out how much your deficit is. This should be step one for anyone applying to college. You need to know how much financial need you really have, and to do so, you’ll need to sit down with your parents or guardians and make a budget. You can request quotes for tuition, dorm life, and food from any prospective colleges that should help guide your numbers. You need to also factor in any travel costs (driving, car upkeep), things you’ll need like sports equipment or uniforms, and sorority associated fees, etc. Then you’ll be able to calculate how much you’ll need above and beyond what family or other assistance is already helping out with. 

  2. Brush up your resume and volunteer hours: Many scholarships are based on your community work or your extra curriculars; they look kindly on students who are well-rounded and efficient with their time. Obviously, you should also be striving for excellent grades in all subjects at school, and of course, keeping up with any other obligations like a part-time job. You should begin to take these things very seriously as early as freshman year, in order to keep your resume as strong as possible.

  3. Use scholarship search engines: You may be surprised at what scholarships you actually qualify for. If you have family members in the military, you may qualify for additional college assistance as well. Scholarship Owl is one that works similarly to a job search website, and matches you with the ones you best meet the criteria for. Fastweb is another one that is excellent and speedy with finding scholarships that you are already able to apply for. Using the web services helps prevent wasted time.

  4. Speaking of time: view applying for scholarships as a part time job…one you really want! If you earn scholarships, you will save yourself not only money, but time. You will have to take on less part-time work and stress if your school finances are more squared away. If you are really on a time-crunch, consider scheduling one hour a day to work on applications and essays, and block out the time just like any other activity.

  5. Stay organized: It is best to make a binder or dedicated area for all of your scholarship copies, forms, deadlines and essays. Make a master spreadsheet or calendar with all of the deadlines so that you don’t miss any of them. If you are asking for letters of recommendation from teachers or friends, be sure to get more than one copy of each one so you don’t need to bother them again. Try to make a master copy of your basic essay, so you can merely tweak and change it up for each application to save time. 

With these simple tips, you can devote your time to finding scholarships, and also increase your chances at winning them! Good luck!

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Your Friends are Heading off to College...Now What?

While college is a pretty natural choice for many seniors, there are several for whom another path is where their life is taking them...and you may be one of those. It can be surprising to the ones around you, but you're not alone. Many seniors choose to forego college to many other exemplary options, such as joining the military, starting an awesome new job, or going to community college. Although it can be lonely and unconventional, these are really worthwhile options, and you should never feel ashamed for choosing a different journey. Here are a few ideas on how to handle this time when your friends are getting ready to head off to their universities:

Source: pexels

Source: pexels

-Support them: It might feel awkward, and even lonely if you are the only one who has chosen to not go "away" to college. But your friends (your true ones) will love and support you, no matter what you have decided, and it's up to you to do the same for them. Attend their graduation parties, say your goodbyes, and help them get started on their big move with an awesome attitude. Your friends will always remember that you stood by them and truly celebrated their accomplishments.

-Find the positives: Maybe going away to college was what you hoped for, and it didn't work out, whether it was too expensive or you didn't get into your dream school. This can feel completely crushing, and can feel like your world is crashing down around you. Instead of wallowing in the hardships, find the positives to focus on, when you can. Here are a few: less student debt if you choose a less expensive school, the ability to live at home or work part time (thus offsetting alot of student loans), and time with loved ones in your hometown or close by. 

-Search for ways to enhance your college years: Even without college or at a community college, you don't need to miss out on the traditional college experience. Look for ways to join clubs, choirs or even sororities wherever you are at, and figure out creative ways to make new friends. If you are joining the workforce right away, seek out opportunities to meet up with co-workers for meals or fun activities, and remember to have some fun! 

-Don't apologize: Even if staying close to home, or joining the military wasn't your first choice, you don't need to explain or validate your choices to the people around you. You don't need to justify your choices, even if they were hard ones. Stand strong in your decision, and be proud of your hard work. You graduated high school, after all, and that's nothing to scoff at. No matter what you do next, be sure to own it. You're an adult now, and you can be proud of the choices you've made if you are confident they are the right ones.

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