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Researching Scholarship Opportunities

Kara Lilly

You are ready to go to college or maybe your child is and you want to know what types of scholarships are available. Maybe you are asking yourself where to start? If so, here are a few tips.

Scholarships are either given by colleges or universities that you plan to attend or by the private sector. But most scholarships are private-sector, that is scholarships that are offered by businesses, professional associations, community service organizations and individuals. Both types of scholarships often requires an application and some type of essay.

Before researching scholarships, know that most have some sort of criteria that you must meet before qualifying. This criteria can be academic performance, financial need or even race, ancestry, sexual orientation and hobbies. Making a list of all of your hobbies, clubs or organizations you have belonged to, whether your parents have belonged to organizations or the armed services, and what your interests are, will help you with your search.

To search for scholarships you can use the Internet, libraries and college counseling and financial aid offices.

Using the Internet and search engines such as Google and directories such as Yahoo! Requires some research skills. Simply typing in the world scholarships and return over 60 million results. Typing in scholarships for women will narrow the results substantially. Add to the search text your major, such as women engineering scholarships to refine results further. Search by all germane academic and personal factors, including your specifics from your list, and combine these where apt; examples include: engineering scholarships, engineering scholarships women, chemical engineering scholarships women, Filipina scholarships, etc.

Most colleges and universities will have a library collection of texts on funding your education and librarians have a great deal of expertise on how to search printed material and the Web. University libraries customarily have larger collections and more resources than community colleges and you can search the catalogs over the Web.

Local public libraries may be useful in several ways. They may have a collection of financial aid and scholarship texts, and the professional librarians may be able to help your search. Public libraries may also have information on local and regional organizations, such as university alumni, association branches, community service clubs and organizations, chambers of commerce, religious institutes, and professional associations that may offer scholarships. Local organizations may offer substantial scholarships, some of which may be renewable. Use the library to get contact information and ask the organization about scholarship offerings and whom to contact for application material.

Check with counselors and professors at your college and the college(s) to which you plan to transfer for scholarship information. Professors in your major may know of scholarships in their field or of professional associations that may offer scholarships.

Check also with employers in your major field. Organizations, such as hospitals, may assist employees who will commit to working for a period of time after graduation. Some hospital work-study programs offer 40 hours pay while the employee works 20 hours and attend a college nursing program for 20 hours work week. Many employers offer tuition assistance programs to help employees gain expertise related to the company's business or operating areas or needs. Some universities offer free or reduced tuition for their employees.

There are many scholarship opportunities out there, the difference in who finds them is how they conduct their research.

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