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The Top Five Scholarship Search Secrets Every Student Needs to Know

By Peterson's Staff updated on Thursday, April 10, 2014

Scholarships are the best form of financial aid because they're among the few sources of tuition money that you never have to pay back. This makes finding and applying for scholarships one of the most crucial steps in your financial aid process.

The team over at has put together this list of the top five tips that will dramatically increase your odds of not only finding the right scholarships to apply for, but also having success with your applications!

Secret #1: Build your personal brand

What’s your personal brand? Ask yourself the question, “Who am I?” Knowing your personal brand will help you write more focused, more concise scholarship essays and have better college admission interviews, increasing the likelihood of getting additional free money. Your personal brand is the topic you talk about with friends in deep conversation into the night. It’s the hobby you miss meals working on, the interest that makes hours seem like minutes.

Secret #2: Create your scholarship crew

Increase the odds of finding scholarships by having more than one pair of eyes looking out for application opportunities. Get a small group of your friends together and agree to meet once a week to hunt for scholarships and apply together. Your team will also be helpful during the application process as you proof each other’s essays and hold each other accountable to your deadlines.

Secret #3: Stay on top of scholarship news

Services such as Google Reader allow you to create your own personal newspaper that covers topics from the Web that you feel are important to you. If you’re looking to pay for college, one of the topics that will be the most important to you should be scholarships—also known as free money. Here’s how to get started:

  • Go to Google and enter the keywords for one of your scholarship searches (For example, type in “Boston Music Scholarships”).
  • At the bottom of the search results page, you’ll find a series of links including one for Google Reader.
  • After selecting that link, you’ll be asked if you want to subscribe to that newsfeed.
  • Click the subscribe button.
  • Once you have subscribed, you’ll get articles about that scholarship term every time there is a news story about it. Then read, review, and determine if it’s relevant to your scholarship search or not. 

Secret #4: Get social

Facebook pages, Twitter, Digg, Reddit, Stumbleupon, and many other social networking web sites and services can be great places for you to discover scholarships for which you should apply. You can also use these sites to see what people are saying about scholarships that you may be thinking about applying for or those to which you have already applied. Here’s an example:

Go to twitter and enter the word “scholarship” into the search box. Scan the results for relevant scholarship opportunities AND relevant sources. Many financial aid offices and scholarship foundations use twitter to reach students, these folks are in the know and trying to help, follow them! You’ll find ScholarshipPoints (@winscholarships) on twitter too! They tweet new scholarship opportunities nearly every day.

Secret #5: Play “Let’s Make a Deal” with the parents

Ask your parents or whoever else who might be helping you pay for college if they’d be willing to make a deal with you. One member got her parents to agree to fork over 10% of the total amount of scholarship money she earned. At the end of the scholarship application process, she had earned $2,000 in scholarship money and had $200 of cash in her pocket at the same time!

Now that you have these five valuable tips and tricks at your fingertips, get going! It’s the perfect time to start searching and applying for scholarships!

About the Author

Peterson's has more than 40 years of experience in higher education, and the expert staff members here are all ready to leverage their considerable knowledge and experience to help you succeed on your educational journey. We have the information, the know-how, and the tools -- now all we need is you!

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