You already know that working with your child’s learning style is important if you want him (or her) to be successful academically. The same is true for going to and paying for college. When your son or daughter is old enough to go to school it’s important to find a university that fits in with both what your kids want to learn and how they will learn it best. If you want to increase your child’s chances of finding scholarships and other financial aid, you’ll seek out the awards that allow your child to play to his (or her) strengths. If they have a genuine concern for their community and the wellbeing of others, try and look for grants that are there to help them obtain a degree in social work. You would be surprised at how many schools and businesses are invested in funding other peoples education.
There are some “cookie cutter” scholarships and grants out there. The Pell Grant, for example, is something that is available to all students (on a first come first served basis so get that FAFSA filled out early). Beyond this, though, you’ll have to do some searching.
Does your daughter have incredibly good grades? Seek out scholarships for which a really high GPA is one of the requirements.
Is your son a talented musician trying to find funding for Berklee College of Music? Look for scholarships based on musical performance and competition.
Does your daughter volunteer regularly and hope to find a career in public service? Look for a third party scholarship like the one offered by 21st century (located here: http://www.21st.com/landing-pages/en/scholarship.jsp)
There are quite a few benefits associated with pursuing third party scholarships that cater to your child’s strengths. Obviously, the biggest benefit is that you are finding scholarships that award students for skills at which your kids already excel. Another major benefit is that these types of scholarships usually have a smaller competition pool.
At the same time, the competition for these awards is quite stiff, so your son or daughter is going to have to work extra hard to prove that they deserve the award. These are not applications that can be “phoned in” the way they might be able to do with a general scholarship offered to every student.
So where do you find these scholarships? Where can you track down these awards? One of the best places to find them is through database websites like Fastweb. You can input your various search criteria and then choose the scholarships for which your student qualifies. This saves you a lot of time that would have otherwise been spent hunting. Another option, of course, is federal grants, which you can find at http://studentaid.ed.gov/types/grants-scholarships/finding-scholarships.
Note: It can be tempting, because you want to feel like a good parent, to do the searching for your kids. You know how busy they already are. It’s tempting to find the scholarships for them and then simply hand them a stack of applications to fill out. It is better, though, that you take a backseat to this approach. You can be encouraging, obviously. You might even need to nag a child who is prone to procrastination.
Still, let your kids do the searching. This forces them to be invested in the outcome. They are more likely to work hard and put real effort into something that they find for themselves than something that was put in front of them.