Getting a scholarship for college is no easy task, with only around 25 percent of high school students receiving money via scholarship or grant when entering college. It’s a competitive world to get a scholarship, but it isn’t impossible. If you’re worrying about how you’re going to pay for college, follow these five steps so that you can improve your chances at an academic scholarship.
Get Those Grades Up
This one should go without saying, but you need to get your grades up if you want to be able to get an academic scholarship of any kind. For those that aren’t financial-based, there’s almost no chance that you’ll be able to receive a scholarship if your grade point average isn’t above 3.0. The higher the better, so make sure that you’re really focusing on getting your GPA by nailing your homework and studying hard for tests.
Most of the scholarships that you’ll sign up for are going to be earlier on in your high school career, so you have to start strong. When there’s any chance for extra credit, make sure that you’re taking it. If you’re somehow able to get above a 4.0 GPA with extra credit, then colleges and scholarships are going to be lining up to introduce themselves to you.
Study For the Tests
Outside of your grade point average, the thing that scholarship sponsors look for more than anything is your test scores. There are two main tests that sponsors are looking for, and those are the ACT and SAT. The SAT used to be the gold standard for college entrance exams, but the ACT has ended up taking over and holding more weight for decisions.
The ACT is graded on a score of 1 to 36, with four separate tests comprising of English, math, science, and reading. These four tests are then given a composite score, and most full-ride scholarships are given to those that score 28 or higher. Many scholarships, though, will start at 22 and you’ll want to be in the 25-28 range for more opportunities.
The best part of taking the ACT and SAT is that you can take the test over again and you’re not defined for the rest of your life by that first score. With that in mind, you’ll want to keep studying and use that knowledge of your first test to help you perfect your test-taking abilities. Sure, it can be a hassle to try and nail the same questions over and over, especially when you’re not sure which ones you got wrong, but practice makes perfect.
It can’t be understated just how important these test scores are for college entrance, as well as your scholarship opportunities. The closer that you can get to that elusive 30 number, the better your chances are for landing an academic scholarship. Even a GPA that’s lacking in perfection can be overcome by a strong test score.
In most states, you’ll be able to select what school you want to attend rather than be stuck in the closest school in your district. You should take advantage of this opportunity if it exists so that you can attend the best school available. This will not only give you the best preparation for college but also give you a chance to rank high amongst elite students.
Part of winning scholarships is having a high class ranking, as those in the top 25 percent are much more likely to earn an academic scholarship while the top 1-5 percenters are almost a shoo-in. It can be easier to earn a high ranking at a smaller school, but if you can prove that you rank high among a large class size, that’s even more impressive.
Extracurricular activities have almost nothing to do with academics in most cases, but having them as part of your resume strongly increases your chances of earning an academic scholarship. Sponsors want to see that you’re able to handle a busy schedule while also helping your community and maintaining strong grades.
Really, that’s all there is to it. Make sure that your class ranking is high by studying hard, taking tests well, earning extra credit, and getting involved with your community or participating in sports. Follow all of these tips and you’re sure to be receiving scholarship offers while still in high school.