Paying for college: What you need to know about scholarships

Scholarships can be one of the most rewarding, and frustrating, aspects of college. I can tell you from personal experience that just going through the motions doesn't work — it took close to 100 applications (with little to no luck) for me to figure out what I was doing wrong. Here's what I've learned about scoring scholarships since then.

You have to utilize your resources.

I didn’t even realize that there were a vast amount of resources available to help with scholarship applications. Think about it, you have your family, faculty, and the vast amount of unlimited resources you can access online to learn about scholarship applications. From helping review your application to giving general advice on what looks good from a reviewing standpoint, consulting others can make the difference between a good application and a great one.

It's all about your brand.

If you're not a marketing student, you might not have thought about "crafting your personal brand." Basically, everything that you do represents who you are to others. This includes how you treat people and, most importantly, what you get involved with and how much effort you put into achieving success.

But how do you capture a snapshot of your personal brand, without interacting with the person or people reviewing your application? All of the materials submitted with your application should echo your personal brand, which could mean including a letter of reference that speaks to your integrity, a unique resume that showcases your creativity, and so on. This is another area where getting a second or third opinion can turn your application from good to great.

Investing time and effort pays off.

I definitely underestimated the amount of work needed to actually win a scholarship in a contest or receive a scholarship from a general application. Each and every scholarship is different and requires a different amount of effort, and I simply failed to realize this. I took a minimal amount of time to write my essays or contact my letters of recommendation and never took the time to look back at my application prior to submitting it.

Once I started putting in the effort on every single application, utilizing my resources, and successfully portraying my personal brand, the scholarships started accumulating. I even won a few scholarships that I had unsuccessfully applied for in the previous years. Also, many organizations that I had been a part of offered their very own scholarships that I didn't even know existed!

Applying for scholarships can be a daunting experience, but there are so many opportunities — and resources — for you to take advantage of at ASU. In fact, the W. P. Carey School awards nearly $1 million in scholarships to deserving business students every year. All you have to do is apply. Discover numerous ways to pay for college at ASU's W. P. Carey School of Business.

Trevor Thompson

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