Scholarship money is out there. You just need to find it. Believe it or not, one way to do that is by talking to people. Your neighbors. Teachers. Business associates. Networking can be as easy as saying hi and talking about your situation.
Here are some proven ways to network:
1. Have an annual meeting with your student's high school counselor.
Remember when your high school counselor was also the football coach? Gone are the days when 'counselor' was a side gig. Today's high school counselors have master’s degrees. They’ll compile scholarship lists. They can arrange shadow days for your student to meet with someone working in a field they’d like to explore. Parents, students, and counselors should have annual meetings to plan the scholarship search and explore career options. Students should have separate meetings on their own throughout the year to set and follow up on goals.
Career exploration can make college cheaper in two ways. First, students who are sure of what post-graduation work they'd like to do are less likely to change majors and pay for additional coursework. Second, they’ll write better essays because they can answer why they want to go to a specific college or choose a specific major.
2. Talk to other parents.
It’s natural, when your child is competing for scholarships, to be hesitant in sharing information with other parents. The reality is that it can be advantageous for families to share info on scholarships they’ve found. This can lead to oodles of money for both families. One student is generally more qualified than another, so no one really needs every scholarship lead. The best part? Some scholarships have multiple winners. Yay! Money for college for everybody.
3. Look for workplace and community service scholarships.
When looking within your community, don't overlook workplace scholarships. it takes just five minutes to stop by human resources and enquire about scholarships for employees. You can also ask about other programs that may help your overall finances, as well as paying for college. For instance, your employer may match funds on saving for college or offer a free training program or promotion that will boost your income. Students with part-time jobs should also ask human resources or their manager about this. If a student is planning on keeping the same part-time job throughout college, ask about tuition reimbursement.
Finally, volunteer organizations might also be a source of scholarships, or a resource to locate scholarships for those who do a lot of community service. Even if the organization does not offer a scholarship, a letter of recommendation from a community service organization could help your other applications.