How to Use Scholarship Search

Scholarship searching is more than just entering a few key words in Google; it's an entire process that sometimes gets short shrift in the rush and bustle of the school year. A scholarship search includes EVERYTHING you do to look for awards — from online searches, to talking with your school counselor, to actually preparing and sending in your applications.

Scholarship search engine
An online web-based tool used to store many thousands of scholarships and allow students to do customized searches to find scholarships ideal for them
Scholarship books
Published print books listing thousands of scholarships, many of which are available through local libraries
Scholarship résumé
A complete record of all your achievements, awards, honors, groups, and extracurricular activities that you have earned or are a part of, plus information about your education and work history, and references

When you are working with an online scholarship search engine (like the one in STEP UP Scholarships), you need to know how it works. Some search engines are keyword based. Some of them start you off with a blank list and then add scholarships to it as you tell the engine about yourself. Others begin with the complete list of scholarships in the database and then whittle it down based on information you put in (filter model). There are some engines that are a combination of these basic models.

The best thing to do with a search engine is to start playing with it. Answer some of the questions, or start applying some of the filters, and see what kinds of things come up on your list. It's easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of scholarships out there, so remember that you can always refine your search to get a more manageable number of awards on your list!

When you find a scholarship that you are really interested in, keep track of it somehow. You might have a spreadsheet with all the information, or maybe a file on your computer, or maybe a notebook with all the important details written down. No matter how you do it, staying organized is key to being successful.

But don't forget, there are plenty of other places to look for scholarships! Make sure to go and talk to your high school counselor, or your college financial aid office, about local scholarships. And while you're at it, look into any scholarships that are only for students attending the college you plan on going to. Don't be shy to ask anyone else, either. Your church, the local Elks lodge, your employer, your parents' employers, and local credit unions — ask everywhere if they have a scholarship program!

Just keep in mind, there are scholarship scammers out there. Avoid paying fees to either search or apply for scholarships, and ensure that any personal information you are sending is going to a reputable, established scholarship-granting organization.

Good luck!