Your Complete Guide to Scholarships

“Apply for every scholarship out there!” Even though I heard this mantra many times myself during high school, the true impact of this statement didn’t hit me until I began college. College is a huge investment of time and money, and without the proper financial security, you could be jeopardizing an invaluable opportunity.

There are an inconceivable number of scholarships out there just waiting for someone to apply, so what are you waiting for? It’s free money that could mean a better future for yourself.

Here are a few tips to get you ready for the scholarship application process:

Start Early

Get a head start and take full advantage of Thanksgiving and winter breaks. Call around to local businesses, clubs and organizations to find out if they offer scholarships to high school seniors. Your guidance counselor and teachers may also know of scholarships that would be perfect for you. Take advantage of the Internet to locate potential sources as well. Next, go ahead and ask a couple teachers to write a general recommendation letter. This way you can use them for multiple scholarships. Last, write essays (think about everything you’ve accomplished in high school), prepare a general résumé and check for any other required materials such as a transcript or portfolio.

Apply for Everything

Many scholarships, whether they are from a large company or a small, local business, only ever have a few applicants. The biggest deterrent for people applying to scholarships is simply the time required to fill out and submit an application. No matter how big or small the scholarship might seem, by not applying, you’re only hurting yourself. You may not think you have a chance at receiving a prestigious scholarship, like the Young Entrepreneur Award, but you never know—you may be the only one applying!

Check, Then Double Check

After all your time and effort, don’t penalize yourself by missing a deadline or forgetting a signature. Go over the requirements and materials thoroughly before you send off your application and double check deadlines or postmark dates. You don’t want your application tossed aside for being one day late.
Luckily, you already have an advantage when it comes to earning scholarships by just being a DECA member! DECA Inc. offers over $300,000 in scholarships every single year, and many of DECA’s corporate and business partners offer scholarships exclusively to DECA members as well.

Here’s a simple timeline for DECA scholarships to keep in mind:

  • Apply for every DECA Inc. and corporate partner scholarship that you possibly can by January 16, 2015. Be sure you meet the scholarship criteria. (
  • Advisors of scholarship recipients will be notified by phone and/or email in March.
  • Scholarships finalists are recognized on stage at the International Career Development Conference in May.

Remember, spending one hour of your time applying for scholarships could save you $1,000.

Follow Lexy Parsons @lexyparsdeca.

Categories: College, College & Career Advice, Financial Aid & Scholarships