Scholarship Stories: Keep Applying, Even After You’re Already in College
There’s a lot of emphasis on applying for college scholarships before you head off to college, and that’s certainly important. But did you know there are plenty of scholarships available to students who are already a few semesters in to their college experience? In fact, you may not even be eligible for certain institutional scholarships until you can demonstrate that you’ve maintained a certain GPA for two consecutive semesters at your university.
The first scholarship I ever received was the Associated Student Government (ASG) Scholarship from Texas State University, San Marcos. It was a total fluke that I found out about it, too. Up until my junior year, I never lived in the dorms. Instead, I commuted an hour to and from school and worked every other day in a different city, so I didn’t have much time to get involved with anything on campus. But around my junior year, I moved to an apartment near Texas State, worked closer to school and started to get involved on campus in different ways, including writing for the student newspaper.
One day when I was waiting to meet with an advisor, I thought I would ask the lady at the desk if there were any scholarships available for current students. She said, “Absolutely!” and brought me a massive three-ring binder full of scholarship information. I was flabbergasted and immediately kicked myself for not looking into this sooner in my college career. Many deadlines had already passed, but I found that the deadline for the ASG scholarship — worth between $500 and $2,000 — hadn’t passed.
I learned that the ASG scholarship was geared for students just like me: middle-class students who work their way through college and whose parents struggle to help pay for school. The criteria for undergraduates were that I be a sophomore, junior or senior, have maintained a 2.5 or higher GPA, be enrolled full-time and be engaged in Texas State through one or more organizations. I had to write a brief essay to explain why I thought I deserved the scholarship.
I approached the essay honestly, explaining my struggle to keep my grades up while working close to full-time as a cashier at Home Depot to pay the bills. I also explained in the essay that despite my limited time, I still committed to write articles for the student newspaper to boost my potential for a career in journalism in the future. Before submitting my essay, I had some volunteers at the writing center look it over to make sure I hadn’t made any spelling or grammar errors that could put me out of the running. I submitted my application and essay and hoped for the best.
I honestly didn’t think I would end up getting the scholarship. Weren’t there tons of middle-class students who had more compelling stories than me? After all, working parents were eligible for the scholarship too. But sure enough, a few weeks later, I was informed that I had received the scholarship, which would be doled out over the next two semesters! I was ecstatic (and so were my parents).
By the time I learned about how many institutional and departmental scholarships were available to upperclassmen, I was already well into my senior year. The lesson I took away from getting the scholarship is to not stop the scholarship search after you’ve been in school for a while. You may be eligible for scholarships that weren’t available to you as an entering freshman!
The author received a bachelor’s degree in print journalism and a minor in writing from Texas State University, San Marcos, in 2006. She is a freelancer writer who has a passion for writing about careers, frugal living, finance, health, parenting and education, such as advice regarding the best universities for students.
This article is part of the BetterGrads special series “Scholarship Stories.” Contributors are asked to tell their personal experience with scholarship searches, applications and opportunities. If you’d like to submit an article for this series, please read our editorial guidelines and let us know here.