Free-Money: How to Work for College Scholarships

By: Bella Skinner

College is expensive. It’s as simple as that. Unless you’re a sports prodigy or have at least a 34 on that ACT, there’s a good chance you will have to drop a good amount of money on furthering your education. For many, 80,000+ dollars on college fees and tuition is not feasible, so what is a better way to fund your schooling than scholarships? Free-money, right?

It seems easy enough to just apply for millions of scholarships and get thousands of dollars in return, but speaking for all of the high school students looking to pay for college, it is definitely not that simple. Spending strenuous amounts of time and effort towards applying for scholarships and getting nothing in return is nothing short of frustrating, but here are some tips from Shala Marshall who has helped many students find ways to be successful for their search for financial aid:

  1. Maintain a positive outlook

When applying for scholarships, it is important to remember what you are working towards. Your college education will benefit you in the long-run.

“You might have a hundred doors closed on you but you might have one that opens,” says Marshall,  “You never know what opportunity will present itself through a closed door.”

  1. Make a schedule and be CONSISTENT

Senioritis… yeah, it’s real. In order to be efficient and successful, try using a calendar or an agenda to organize your time while also setting realistic expectations for yourself. 

“Make yourself a written schedule and stick with that schedule” advises Marshall 

  1. Naviance, Naviance, Naviance! 

Luckily for Jenks High School students, the college board has provided an amazing tool for finding and applying for scholarships: Naviance. For those who know what Naviance is and haven’t utilized it yet, you probably want to reconsider. 

“The college board has done a great job giving students access to local scholarships and even nation-wide scholarships,” says Marshall, “kids have to use Naviance.”

Link to Naviance: 

  1. Find out what makes YOU unique 

Instead of putting yourself up against thousands of other students that are applying for the same scholarship, dive into your personal quirks and characteristics that make you… well, you. 

“They really need to narrow down their scholarship search down to things that make them stand out among their peers,” explains Marshall, “My advice for students is to find out what makes them different than their peers and then do a search for whatever makes them unique.”

Hispanic student scholarships:

Unique scholarship search:

Scholarships for students with red hair:

  1. Remember what you are working for 

Applying for scholarships takes time, but it also pays. Sounds familiar, right? It is definitely like a job and working is a part of life!

“You have to make it a job,” says Marshall, “Your job is to do everything you possibly can to give yourself opportunities to win scholarships.”

  1. Keep trying! 

Just because the first, second, third, or even tenth scholarship wasn’t for you, keep trying!

“Don’t limit yourself and think ‘oh, I’m not gonna get that and I’m not gonna apply for that,’” says Marshall, “You have nothing to lose and everything to gain from trying.”

  1. Consider Work-study 

Work-study is a great opportunity for students who aren’t getting the results they want from their scholarship searches. 

“Work-study programs allow you to earn money and also develop relationships during your time at your university,” explains Marshall, “It can open doors for you later on,” says marshall “your networking and making connections which opens a lot of doors.” 

To learn about finding opportunities for work-study, ask the college board about applying or contact your school of choice’s work-study office. 

For more information about work-study and financial aid, go to the college office room next to the building 6 counseling office or contact Traci Nassar at

Senior Clair Hargrove with her acceptance box from Oral Roberts University 
Naviance website logo
Senior Marcella Dittamore’s college acceptance letters.

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