Five Steps to Scholarships

By Michelle Sandoval

Program Manager

Generation 1st Degree – Pico Rivera


Now that college applications are in, it’s time to focus on researching and applying for scholarships. As Jacki mentioned in the last newsletter, we all know that the costs of college can be shocking, but don’t let financial hardship prevent you from going to your dream college. There are lots of scholarships available to help supplement the costs. Here are five tips to help with the scholarship process…


  1. Create a professional email address & revisit your social media pages.


Many scholarship search engines will ask you to register and create a profile, so I encourage you to create a professional email address that you can use throughout your entire college application journey. This email address should reflect your name, an abbreviation or initials of your name, but not a nickname or obscure word, such as or Examples of professional emails include,, or You can add a middle initial or middle name if your name is taken.


While you’re creating a professional email for yourself, take a closer look at your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and any other public social media sites you are active on. People you communicate with, be it a school advisor, organization leader or potential employer, might take a look at your profiles. Keep them private or make sure that your posts, photos and videos are tasteful and not offensive. Regardless of whether or not you choose to keep your profile private or public, always make sure your social media profile photo is tasteful and not offensive.

  1. Apply for national, statewide and local scholarships.


A great place to start is College Greenlight, which matches your personal profile with a list of national and regional scholarships. For local scholarships, check with your campus’ College & Career Center, local media websites, and community pages. Most local scholarships tend to come from individual/family donors as well as local organizations, such as the Rotary Club, Women’s Club, Elks Lodge, and Alumni Associations.


  1. Apply to as many scholarships as possible.

Don’t fear the larger essays and don’t overlook the smaller award amounts. The top two things that increase your chances of securing several scholarship are: (1) Applying to scholarships that require more work AND (2) applying to scholarships with smaller award amounts. Why? These two types of scholarships often cause THOUSANDS of dollars to go unclaimed every year. For example, students overlook smaller scholarships because the ones with larger amounts are obviously more appealing. However, smaller scholarships tend to have fewer applicants. Remember, those “small” scholarships can be used to pay off important items such as health insurance, books and even bus passes for daily commutes. Also, those applications that require a portfolio, long essay, or additional media examples tend to be seen as more “work” by so many students that the several who do submit a completed application have a much higher chance of winning!

  1. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Your College Application Content.

We all know about the benefits of recycling our used plastic, but many high school students don’t realize that they can also recycle parts of their different college application essays to use in their scholarship applications. Reduce your workload…you do not have to start from scratch. Reuse by taking a second glance at your Personal Insight Questions (used for University of California applications) or your Personal Statement (used for the Common Application) and select the parts that best reflect your personality. Recycle by mixing and matching content from different college applications if you have to, just make sure to tie them together well and make sure you’re answering the scholarship question at hand.

  1. Back to basics.

Proofread for grammar, don’t rewrite the essay prompt within your answer (they know what they’re asking you), don’t use quotes/cliché statements, double-check to make sure you have met all of the requirements, stay under the word limit, and do not wait until the last day to submit! (Technology is amazing, but a large amount of visitors on the day of the deadline might cause a website to crash).