Myths abound regarding scholarships in general, and are even more abundant on the topic of online education scholarships.
The truth is that students who attend either an online university or an online degree programs from a college with a physical campus, both have access to the same types of scholarships that all traditional students do. Regardless of how you attend, as long as your college is accredited, and you are working towards a degree, there are numerous scholarships available.
In fact, online students often have even a larger list of scholarships to apply to, since some are specifically for students attending college online.
Additionally, students who are attracted to online education are frequently eligible for multiple types of scholarships based on need. These include returning adults, minorities, single parents and the unemployed or underemployed.
Online education is one of the least expensive and most convenient ways to get a higher education, but that does not mean that there are no scholarships available for those students. Searching for and locating scholarships you are eligible for and interested in will take some time. But the Internet has transformed the way students search for them.
Rather than buying a huge book which supposedly lists all of the available scholarships for the year and then writing to get more information on each, you can now search from the comfort of your own home-just as you plan to attend college.
Gone also are the days of calling or driving around to various local business and organizations to pick up scholarship applications. So even though it will be important for you to set aside quality time to complete your searches and apply for appropriate ones, it is much easier, faster and cheaper than ever before.
A Word of Warning – Do Your Research
The Internet has changed our lives for the better in so many ways, but all of the information we now have at our fingertips also provides “real estate” for anyone who wants to spread false or misleading information. This is certainly the case with online college scholarships.
You will need to keep your guard up to ensure that you do not fall for a scam while doing your research. There are things to watch out for, including scholarship websites that ask you to provide bank information or credit card numbers.
There are many quality, trustworthy sources for scholarship information-all for free of charge, so if you are asked to pay a fee to obtain a list of scholarship opportunities, sidestep that website immediately and return to one like this to stay safe.
No one can promise you that you will win a scholarship, so overlook all scholarship search sites which say that they can-they are probably a scam. While searching for scholarships, live by the old adage, If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is so that if you see anything on a site that seems questionable, discount them and move on to one of the free, quality sources available.
It is best to be proactive in this case, as with all Internet sources. Things you can do to protect yourself before spending time looking through a lot of information before reading some less than legitimate small print consists of looking at the website’s privacy policies as soon right away.
If you run across a scholarship or scholarship search website that sounds questionable, find out about their credibility track record with the Better Business Bureau and research the company.
Remember that you are trying to find “free money,” which means there is going to be some work involved. If someone is promising you the moon-large amounts of money for practically no work involved or for a small fee, you would be well advised to either research them further or just disregard them completely.
The first, most natural place to look for scholarships is at the institution you plan to attend. The increase in popularity of online universities has increased the competition, which is good news for students. In recent years, more online universities have started offering their students partial scholarships to cover the costs of tuition and books.
These are often merit based, and they typically are not complete scholarships-ones that would pay for your living expenses while you are in school, but then, many scholarships are partial. If you are attending a university that has a physical campus, you may be eligible for multiple scholarships through the university. Remember, the fact that you are getting an online degree does not make you less of a student than the traditional type.
Check in with the financial aid department and apply for all of the university scholarships that you are eligible for. These scholarships go fast, so make sure to apply early, if possible.
Organizations And Companies
Many groups and organizations offer scholarships for their members. If you are affiliated with an organization, check with their head office to see if they offer scholarships, and if so, what qualifications must be met.
Don’t forget to check into organizations that you have or still volunteer for too. If you or your parents are employed by a large, national company, find out if they offer scholarships to employees and their families. Numerous organization and company scholarships are available, so don’t overlook them.
Creative Contests – Talent Counts
It’s not only football players who can take advantage of their talents to help pay their way through college! Even if you are a returning student who has been out of school for many years, you can use your talents to earn scholarships. There are many scholarships that are run like a contest.
These include typical talents such as poetry writing and photography, but also unusual ones that make it easy and fun to combine several of your talents. You may be a crafty person who is also a big supporter of the green movement. If so, look for scholarship contests for arts or craft projects made from recycled materials. Or maybe you would love to be the next Steven Spielberg, and you happen to have an affinity for horticulture.
Look for unique opportunities such as creating a time-lapped film of growing an orchid from seed. Sometimes the most creative or wacky submission wins the scholarship. Do not buy into the belief that just because you are not a jock or fresh out of high school that you cannot score scholarships for the things that make you unique.
Personal Characteristics – You
Once you start your scholarship search to fund your online education, you will begin to see a great many available for persons with specific characteristics.
There are a multitude of scholarships available for people of specific races, single parents, first-generation college students, military families and even for left-handed people. Think about what makes you distinctive. If you use one of the free scholarship locaters online, you will be asked a long list of questions that they will use to determine which scholarships to put on your personalized list.
Some of them are strange or may feel invasive, but they may lead you to the financial support you need to earn your degree with substantially less or even no student debt.
Although there are a huge number of scholarships out there, they all do have a few things in common. First of all, they all have deadlines that must be met. It will be important for you to keep careful track of when each scholarship deadline is because they all come at different times.
Some have to be postmarked by a certain day while others have to have arrived at their location by the due date. Read the small print carefully.
One thing is for sure-no matter what the scholarship, if you miss the deadline, you will have just wasted a great deal of time and effort because late applications will not be accepted.
Another item to pay careful attention to no matter what type of scholarship you are applying for, including online education scholarships, is that you must supply them with exactly what they ask for. If you only send one recommendation letter when they ask for three, your application will be disqualified.
If they ask for a two page essay on why you chose to earn your degree online, but you send them a five page essay that mentions the prompt, but then goes off in a different direction all together, your application will be disqualified in the first go-round.
Part of the scholarship game is reading and following the exact directions. Give them only what they want, nothing more, nothing less.
Applying for all of the scholarships that you are eligible for is just plain smart. Do not believe all of the myths about scholarships. Regardless of whether you drive to class or you “attend” class wherever you take your laptop, scholarships are available.
With some time and effort, you can significantly lower the price you will have to pay to earn your degree and get started on the career that you have always wanted.