Six ways to help your senior secure scholarships

mother helping daughter with scholarships

Is your student getting ready for college? Learn how to up their chances in the scholarship application process with these helpful tips.

Senior year is an important time in your student’s life, especially as they look toward the future. For many students, this is the time when college starts to get real for them — including college costs.

One great way to pay for college is with scholarships. “It’s free money,” says Richard Sorenson, president of Falcon Management, which runs Tuition Funding Sources (TFS), a database of over 7 million scholarships. “College is expensive, and scholarships provide a way to alleviate some or all of that expense. Every student should apply for scholarships.”

Though your senior should take the lead in the search, there are several things you can do to help:

  1. Help them determine where to search: Beginning a scholarship search can be confusing if your student doesn’t know quite where to start. Sorenson says their first stop should be a high school guidance department or the financial aid office of your future college, if you know it. The professionals there will be able to direct you to relevant or college-specific resources and scholarships.

    Your student’s next stop is online, to an online scholarship database like TFS. “Online search engines can direct them to all the scholarships out there — and there are a lot of them.” Use advanced filters to find scholarships that your student specifically qualifies for — for example, because of their major or school.

  1. Get organized: Applying for more scholarships means more opportunity for your student to get as much free money as possible, but it can also lead to confusion if they don’t stay organized. As a parent, this is the perfect place to lend a hand. Sorenson suggests recommending they keep a spreadsheet of scholarships that includes deadlines and requirements for each. This way they can stay on top of their applications at a glance.
  1. It’s all about the details: Part of getting organized with the application process means paying attention to all the details, no matter how small. Common mistakes like not adhering to a specific word count or forgetting to proofread an essay could lead to your student’s application being rendered ineligible. Make sure they read through every guideline before submitting. Have a trusted third party read over the application before they send it in, whether that person is you or a guidance counselor.
Parents can really help their kids stay on track by helping them set a schedule for scholarships and sticking to it.

— Richard Sorenson, president of Falcon Management, which runs Tuition Funding Sources

  1. Stay on schedule: “Scholarships are easy to put off, until the deadline is right on you,” says Sorenson. “Parents can really help their kids stay on track by helping them set a schedule for scholarships and sticking to it.” This could be something like committing to four hours a week of searching and applying. “Review their spreadsheet to make sure they’re staying on track and not missing deadlines, give feedback on essays, and just provide support as needed.”
  2. Talk about recommendations:Many scholarship applications require recommendations from a teacher, coach, or other influential adult in the student’s life. Talk with your teen about which adults might be appropriate to write letters of recommendation and remind them to ask for the recommendation well in advance of when they’ll need it. You may want to suggest that they send a polite reminder several days ahead of that deadline just to make sure everything is on track. Let your student know that it’s a good idea to write a sincere thank-you note to anyone who took the time to write a recommendation for them. Teaching them to follow up with people in this way is a great skill that they can carry into their adult lives (like when they’re interviewing for jobs!).
  3. Provide encouragement: Ultimately, the work of applying to scholarships will fall on your student and Sorenson says if they’re diligent, the hard work will pay off. “Apply for as many scholarships as possible,” he says. “It’s a numbers game. The more you apply for, the better chance you have to win. It’s not something you do once or twice. It’s a continual process that you do week after week.” Help your student think through their essays, brainstorm what sets them apart from a crowd, and tell them to brag a little. After all, this is their time to shine!

Find and apply to millions of scholarships (yes, millions!) at Tuition Funding Sources.

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