Welcome to the SRC’s weekly blog published during the quarter! Our blog features scholarship related advice, how-tos, and tips for the whole scholarship process, from searching to applying to getting that cash so you can graduate from college as debt-free as possible. And ultimately that is our goal here at the SRC: for you to graduate debt-free!

Apart from our blog, you can also check out archived issues of the SRC’s quarterly publication, Strategies, published from 2010-2020. Each issue is filled with articles that will help you in the scholarship process. You will find articles teaching you how to avoid scholarship scams, how to ask for letters of recommendation, and how to create the habits that will keep you on track for scholarships.

Both the blog and issues of Strategies are two of the many resources that your Scholarship Resource Center offers you. For more, we recommend you make an appointment or drop-in to speak with one of our advisors.

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2023-02-01 Eight Weeks to Scholarships?

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

8 Weeks to Scholarships?

Many SRC visitors seek statistics on their chances of winning a scholarship: for those who do not apply, the odds are 0%. However, a number of students who learn the scholarship process well often win awards in excess of their budgeted need. After someone wins their first scholarship, they become inspired to send off more applications. You can win scholarships and grants for the 2023-2024 school year, but you must start NOW. To help you, here’s a 8-week plan you can follow to meet upcoming scholarship deadlines.

Scholarship applications generally require:

  • a personal statement
  • resume, Curriculum Vitae (CV) or annotated CV
  • academic transcripts
  • one or more letters of recommendation, and
  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and Financial Aid Budget.

Week 1, visit the SRC to learn about scholarship resources, both internal UCLA scholarships and external non-UCLA scholarships. You can make an appointment here or just drop-in at our office in Covel Commons 233.

Week 2, create a spreadsheet listing all the scholarships for which you plan to apply. Be sure to keep track of deadlines.

Week 3, draft your personal statement during. Be sure to include unique experiences from your life. Call the SRC at (310)206-2875 for writing assistance and proofreading.

Week 4, update your resume and Curriculum Vitae with specific dates, job details, awards, honors and activities. Make an appointment with an SRC counselor to review format, content, and grammar.

Week 5, contact at least 3 professors or advisors to request letters of recommendation. In your email, send them your personal statement, resume, and any other materials they may find useful for writing your letter. And make sure to specify when their letters are due.

Week 6, obtain and organize any other documents you may need, such as transcripts and financial aid documentation. If an application requires official transcripts, make sure to order those ahead of time through UCLA here. Remember that official transcripts must be sent directly to the scholarship purveyor.

Week 7, begin by applying to the scholarship with the closest deadline. Fill out the application, upload your documents, and hit send. At this p0int, congratulate yourself on applying to your first scholarship!

Week 8, update your documents to match the specific requirements of the next scholarship to which you’re applying. It gets easier from here on. At this point, you’ve already done most of the difficult work. Now, you are using the work you’ve already done to apply to the next scholarship and the next and the next…

If you find that you need an extra week or two to develop and refine your personal statement, resume, or Curriculum Vitae, then take the extra time. The point is to have a schedule with a set goal about when you will finish so that you have time to apply for scholarships. But always keep scholarships deadlines in mind! Our hope is that if you make yourself a plan with goals and deadlines, you will be more likely to follow through and apply. Best of luck to you!

2023-01-25 Creating Your Personalized Scholarship Search

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Creating Your Personalized Scholarship Search

Most students who come into the Scholarship Resource Center start with a simple question: “Do you have a list of scholarships I can apply for?” In response, I usually swivel around in my chair and say, “this whole office is a list.”

Though many balk at the task of sorting through potential opportunities, we know that it is absolutely essential for students to develop individualized search strategies based on their own self-knowledge.

Here’s how to make a spreadsheet that will facilitate effective personal searches:

Set aside a chunk of time to answer questions about the following aspects of your background, short and long-term goals, and personal interests.

The answers to these questions will become search terms for your spreadsheet. Use each term to navigate institutional or university websites, find privately endowed community funds, and identify interesting essay contests.

Spend one hour experimenting online with each search term.

Goals while in your Degree Program

What is your major? What goals will you accomplish that are related to your course of study? Volunteering? Study abroad? What research topics most interest you?

It is up to you to navigate university bureaucracies and find opportunities to apply for funds to support your degree objectives. Your can start with your department, but there are hundreds of other centers, labs, institutes, student services, and academic communities that support your goals.

Communities

What communities do you care about? What communities care about you? What communities do you belong to?

Rather than focus on the nuances of your sense of identity, imagine communities who care about your experiences. This exercise will expand how you think about the role that your identity plays in a world of shared experiences, and allow you to connect with the missions of many organizations.

Potential Careers

Based on your current course of study, what are five different career outcomes that you would enjoy?

What essential turning points, key experiences, or critical skills will you need in order to reach these goals? Do professional organizations fund students to achieve career-based goals in these fields?

Interests & Hobbies

Really go for it in this column. Rather than peruse the countless essay contests that exist on the Internet, make a list of the hobbies and interests that you’d most like to write an essay about. Then your search queries will look like this: “Essay contests about coffee…”

Geographies

List the cities, regions, counties, and states with which you have meaningful or residential connections. When you start searching for organizations, the best place to start is where you’ve lived, where you went to high school, where you are currently based. Ideally, you’ll start asking questions like: “What organizations in LA care about something I care about?”

Project Based Goals

If someone gave you $15,000 for a community project, what would you put together? What are the components of a community mission that you care about?  (Check out straussfoundation.org…)

Many organizations award funds to students based on project proposals. But these foundations usually have very specific mission statements. The best way for you to connect with an organization like this is to think about the kind of project you’d like to carry out in the first place.

By creating your own personalized list of search terms, you will have narrowed your scholarship search considerably and avoided the daunting task of searching through endless lists of scholarships that may not even interest you. The point is to find and apply for scholarships that are for you. And trust us–there is a scholarship out there with your name on it!

2023-01-18 What is Scholarship Eligibility?

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

What is Scholarship Eligibility?

“What do I have to do to get a scholarship?”

The SRC staff hears this question every day. Our answer is simple: “Meet the criteria, be yourself–and apply on time!”

Many students think that qualifying for scholarships involves two criteria: scholastic achievement or financial need. However, scholarship committees actually use a range of factors to determine award eligibility. Therefore, we at the SRC would like you scholarship seekers to expand your understanding about scholarship eligibility.

Private foundations, organizations, and individual donors use a number of criteria to consider students for scholarships, including, but not restricted to: hobbies, religion, career objectives, athletic ability, disabilities, gender, parental activities, race, heritage, marital status, military participation, work experience, and city, county, or state of legal residence. There are even organizations out there that offer scholarships to students who write the best argumentative or creative essay.

Please remember that no single resource contains all available scholarships. Apart from searching for scholarships on UCLA’s Academic Works site, you should also look at our SRC website and database, do Google searches, look through scholarship databases (here’s one!), and yes, find scholarship books.

Just know that whenever you use scholarship books as part of your search, you should always ensure that the books are current. Study how each resource organizes the contents. First, locate the index which usually appears at the back, but sometimes the front, of the book. Search for specialized indices with  such tittles as Index by Applicant Characteristics or Quick Find Index. These indices often list scholarships that require more specialized criteria than just your area of study. Remember that books usually cross-reference scholarship listings in the index by scholarship number rather than the page.

And don’t be afraid to approach community organizations, especially those to which you belong, to discover whether these groups offer scholarships. If these organizations do not offer scholarships, inquire whether they might create such awards. After all, why shouldn’t YOU become the first annual recipient? Although the organization’s members might say, “Sorry, we do not offer a scholarship,” they might instead tell you, “we do not currently offer a scholarship, but are interested in offering one.”

Here’s the bottom line: learn to identify and thoroughly search resources, and you may find unique scholarship listings. Don’t automatically assume that you are ineligible for scholarships just because your family does not qualify for federal financial aid.

As Mark Kantrowitz, author of the Financial Aid Information Page, says: “some loans and scholarships are available regardless of need…There are several factors in addition to income that are used to determine your eligibility and there is no simple cut-off based on income.”

Although there are no guarantees in the scholarship world, you can be certain that if you don’t apply, you will not receive scholarships. So, get busy! Remember: Most private foundations’ and organizations’ deadlines fall between January and April of the current academic year.

2023-01-11 Who Actually Wins Scholarships Anyway?

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

“Who Actually Wins Scholarships Anyway?”

At the UCLA Scholarship Resource Center we commonly field this question, and it’s easy to see why. In most cases it takes a real commitment of time and effort in order to win scholarships, and students (understandably) want to know whether that will actually pay off.

Because there are so many types of scholarships, there is no single profile of a scholarship winner. And because of that diversity, it’s also difficult to provide absolute statistics or predictions. But one thing is clear: you don’t win scholarships by not applying!

The students who put in a regular effort and work with us routinely on multiple scholarship applications, and use our scholarship books, folders, handouts, and online resources to find those opportunities, have an outstanding record of success. From my personal experience, I can confidently assert that I have never worked with a student on at least five different scholarship applications who did not win at least one of them. I consider that to be the most important statistic: of the students who really invest their time and effort in the scholarship process (and work with us on it), the success rate is exceedingly high.

The key to the scholarship process, besides putting together the best possible presentation of yourself in the scholarship essay and other application materials, is to apply for as many scholarships as possible where you meet the eligibility criteria. Aiming at 15-20 applications in a year is a great goal, though even five to ten gives you an excellent chance. While one scholarship committee might pass on your application despite its excellence, for any number of reasons, if you have five, ten, 15, or 20 different scholarship committees reviewing your application, you have an exponentially better chance of winning.

Twenty applications sounds like a lot, but scholarship essays are often very similar (not to mention your letters of recommendation, transcripts, resumes, etc.), so your twentieth scholarship application happens much more easily and quickly than your first or second. Furthermore, applying for scholarships also allows you to develop materials and habits that will prove invaluable to you later in your  applications to internships, graduate schools, and jobs.

In sum, the percentage of students who actually benefit from making a serious commitment to the scholarship process is: 100%.

2022-11-30 Get to Know the Scholarship Resource Center Workshops

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Get to Know the Scholarship Resource Center Workshops

Whether you are a freshman, transfer student, or continuing student, there’s no time like the present to begin thinking about and planning your scholarship application process. But what does that mean? Where do you start? Where do you look for scholarships, and what are the supporting documents needed to apply? How can you put together an application that is compelling and polished? These are some questions you may have as you embark on the scholarship process.

We here at the Scholarship Resource Center can help you with all aspects of the process, from where to search, how to apply, and what to write in your scholarship personal statement. Every quarter, we offer a series of workshops focusing on salient scholarship topics: Secrets to Winning College Cash; How to Write Personal Statements for Scholarships; and, How to Get Letters of Recommendations. Each workshop usually runs about half an hour (personal statement workshops tend to run an hour) and are held on Zoom or in-person. If you want to follow-up with us, our center is located in Covel Commons 233 should you have further questions or are in need of further guidance.

Below is a brief overview and description of the workshops we offer.

    1. Secrets to Winning College Cash I— Offers an introduction to online scholarship databases and provides helpful tips and guidelines to maximize your scholarship search and applications.
    2. Secrets to Winning College Cash II–Covers the strategic process for conducting routine online searches and keeping track of deadlines and important information. By attending this workshop, you will receive an excel template with a list of curated UCLA and external scholarships.
    3. How to Write Personal Statements for ScholarshipsDesigned to help students write a compelling and well-written scholarship essay by reviewing the purpose and goal of this critical document. The workshop covers the dos and don’ts of essay writing, writing to the target audience, and some hands-on brainstorming activities.
    4. How to Get Letters of Recommendation for ScholarshipsOffers key guidelines and tips for obtaining a strong letter of recommendation, including who to ask and how to ask; how to build a professional working relationship with your prospective letter writer; and what you can/should do to help your recommender write the best scholarship letter on your behalf.
ARCHIVED ISSUES OF STRATEGIES — THE SRC’S QUARTERLY PUBLICATION FROM 2010-2020
[updated: 11/23/2022]

Funding 101
Undergraduate Research Centers
Upcoming National Scholarships
International Affairs: Funding and Careers
Resources for Scholarships
Essay Contests: Tips and Tricks
Strauss Foundation Scholarship
SRC Workshop Schedule