Scholarship search engines for homeschoolers?

When we first became aware of scholarship search engines, we had reservations about using them. They required a lot of personal information, and we doubted they would offer much help for a homeschooled student. We had read numerous negative comments, complaining that they were a waste of time. However, being quite desperate for college funds, we signed up with FastWeb. There was no reason for choosing that particular college scholarship search engine, other than the fact it was the first one we heard about.

What we learned about FastWeb was that if used correctly, it can bring numerous scholarships even to the doors of homeschoolers. It was through FastWeb that we learned about some of the scholarships that our son ended up winning, such as the Elks Most Valuable Student Award for $1,000, the Hall/McElwain Scholarship for $1000 and the Gen and Kelly Tanabe Scholarship for $4,000.

College Expenses Piling upThe key is to not wasteĀ  time in applying for scholarships where you don’t excel in at least one of the required areas. For example, if you’ve contributed hundreds of hours in volunteer service, focus on the scholarships that emphasize community involvement. If you have good grades and SAT/ACT scores, but not great ones, it’s probably a waste of time applying for scholarships that appear to concentrate primarily on academics. If you’re relatively good at writing essays, look for essay contests that feature a subject you are interested in.

FastWeb selects scholarships based on the profile you provide. They do a decent job of tailoring them to your specific needs and interests, but it helps to delete those that aren’t realistic for your situation. Otherwise, the process can seem overwhelming. While going through the list, you can mark as a “favorite” those that you think you may be uniquely qualified for. You may also want to delete the listings deemed “promotions” as most are just drawings intended to get you to sign up with more search sites. We initially signed up for a couple of these, and then realized there was very little new information gained by registering with numerous sites. We found it best to choose one, and stick with it. After narrowing your selection to a manageable number, organize by date so that you don’t miss upcoming deadlines.

Our consensus is that scholarship search engines work great, as long as you’re willing to take the time to evaluate which of their scholarship selections are genuinely suited for you.

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Monday, April 18th, 2011 Homeschool

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