Navigating the scholarship application process as a homeschooled student can be a daunting task. As a homeschooling parent, you play a pivotal role in shaping your child’s educational journey. Guiding your students through obtaining scholarships is a natural extension of your ongoing support and mentorship.

Throughout my pursuit of three degrees, I actively sought out scholarships, working closely with my parents in the application process the entire time. 

Their support, guidance, and encouragement created a great partnership which increased my chances of success. There are scholarships that I simply would not have gotten without my parents’ assistance.

Here are just a few ways parents can help with scholarships and scholarship applications:

Start Searching for Scholarships Early

While college may seem like a distant prospect, it is crucial to encourage your student to start on the scholarship search early to gain a competitive edge. Initiating this process early, regardless of their current high school grade level, can have many benefits.

  • Increases Chances of Success: Starting the scholarship search early allows a student to identify a wider range of opportunities, including scholarships with less competitive application pools and unique eligibility requirements.
  • Reduces Stress and Anxiety: Helps alleviate stress and anxiety often associated with last-minute applications and the pressure to get funding.
  • Improves Time Management: Early planning allows a student to organize their scholarship search, manage deadlines efficiently, and avoid last-minute applications.
  • Enhances Application Quality: Starting early provides ample time to gather necessary documents, prepare compelling essays, and seek guidance from mentors or counselors, resulting in stronger scholarship applications.
  • Development of Essential Skills: The scholarship search process fosters essential skills such as research, organization, communication, and time management, which are valuable assets for both academic and personal growth.
  • Increased Confidence and Motivation: Receiving scholarships early can fuel confidence, academic drive, and financial security.
  • Peace of Mind: Early searching reduces the financial burden on families and ensures a well-funded education.

Help Your Student Get Organized

Navigating the complex and time-consuming scholarship application process can easily overwhelm even the most organized student. I was a very organized student, and despite my strong organizational skills, I found myself overwhelmed.

With dozens of different deadlines, essay requirements, letters of recommendation, and specific eligibility requirements, I quickly began to feel disorganized and discouraged. This is where parents can provide their guidance and support.

The goal is not to take control of the process but rather to help develop their organizational skills. Encourage your student to get a planner or a notebook to keep track of scholarships.

Even better, suggest creating a dedicated Google Doc for scholarships, listing each scholarship’s name, requirements, due dates, and any additional relevant information. This shared document will provide both of you with easy access to the scholarship details.

As you and your student find scholarships, you both can add them to the Google doc. When they apply, they will update the document. Ensuring both of you know which scholarships have completed applications and which don’t.

Assist With Searching for Scholarships

While the adage “don’t do it for them” holds true in many instances, I strongly recommend providing active assistance to your student in their scholarship search. This proactive approach doesn’t imply a lack of motivation or effort on their part; rather, it reflects your understanding of their need for additional support.

My mom did a lot of searching for me, and she didn’t do it because I was lazy or unmotivated; she did it because she knew I needed additional support. My mom’s involvement played a huge role in my success.

I was juggling a full-time academic load, a part-time job, studying, and training in martial arts. My time devoted to looking for scholarships was very limited. My mom’s support during this period was invaluable. She actively sought out scholarship opportunities and promptly shared the relevant links with me. Her help significantly eased the burden, especially during times when I felt overwhelmed by my commitments.

Brainstorming Scholarship Opportunities

When embarking on the scholarship search, expand your horizons and consider unconventional options. The diverse array of scholarships available often extends beyond academic excellence and encompasses unique talents, hobbies, and personal experiences. The two examples below illustrate the vast spectrum of scholarship opportunities.

  • The Vegetarian Resource Group will award, one award of $10,000 and two awards of $5,000 will be given. Entries may only be sent by students graduating from high school in Spring 2023. The deadline is February 20, 2024.
  • The Tall Clubs International Scholarship will award one award of $1,000. Entries may only be from incoming freshmen who are tall. Men must be at least 6’2, and women must be at least 5’10. The deadline is January 1, 2024.

Who would have thought there were scholarships for vegetarians and tall people? I’m sure if you can think of it, there’s a scholarship for it. Do some digging and search around for unique scholarship opportunities, as they will have less competition.

Parents, Think About Who You Know

Explore tuition reimbursement opportunities through your employer. Many businesses offer tuition assistance programs as employee benefits, providing financial support for the education of family members.

Check with your HR department to inquire about your company’s tuition reimbursement policy. Consider encouraging your student to seek employment at companies that offer such benefits, as this could significantly reduce their education expenses.

If you are military, be sure to look at scholarships for dependents of veterans. Numerous organizations and foundations offer scholarships specifically for the children of veterans. Reach out to small and local businesses; they often provide financial support to their communities through scholarship programs.

Many service organizations, such as Kiwanis, Rotary, Elks, Moose, Eagles, and Optimist Clubs, also offer scholarships to deserving students. Many students are not familiar with these types of clubs, and almost all have some type of scholarship program.

I was among those students who were unaware of the existence of such clubs.

My participation in an Oral Speech Contest organized by our local Optimist Club stemmed solely from my parents’ acquaintance with a friend whose father was a member. I was a little reserved about entering a contest that had the word “optimist” in it. However, my mom gently encouraged me to look into it, reminding me that I should never pass up an opportunity.

This is the contest I entered, the Optimist International Oratorical Contest. It’s a great contest. My participation provided a valuable platform for developing my speechwriting and public speaking skills. The experience, combined with the skills I acquired through karate, has undoubtedly contributed to my confidence in public speaking. While I did not win the grand prize, my progress yielded financial rewards, a sense of accomplishment, and enhanced self-assurance.

Provide Comprehensive Proofreading Support

A second pair of eyes on your student’s essay can make a world of difference. Grammatical errors and misspelled words can create an impression of carelessness and lack of attention to detail. A simple mistake in grammar or spelling could overshadow their achievements. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that their essays are polished and error-free to maximize their chances of success.

While spell-checking software is a valuable tool, it has limitations. Spell checkers may overlook homophonic errors (words that sound alike but have different meanings) or instances where words are misused. To comprehensively review your student’s essays, consider utilizing free online grammar and punctuation checking services.

Help Your Student Fill Out The FAFSA

Some scholarship applications require the student to have a completed FAFSA application. Navigating the FAFSA application can be a daunting task for your student, especially given the complexity of the form and the unfamiliarity with the required tax information. To ensure accuracy and provide support, consider completing the application together. Since much of the information needed is typically drawn from the parent’s tax records, your involvement can significantly streamline the process.

Help Your Student with Reminders

Every scholarship is different, and it can be challenging for a student to keep track of deadlines. Regular check-ins with your students can help ensure that they meet important deadlines and stay on top of their applications. Quick reminders sent via text or email can be very helpful. I recall instances when my parents’ reminders prevented me from missing crucial deadlines.

Non-Academic Areas of Achievement

True achievement encompasses far more than academics. Not every scholarship is looking for a specific GPA; there are other things that make a student stand out as an applicant. Scholarship panels value non-academic achievements and activities because they demonstrate skills and knowledge in specific areas. It also shows that they have participated in activities that enhance personal development.

Beyond my strong academic record, I actively engaged in my community and pursued personal interests that reflect my well-roundedness. Volunteer work at local organizations demonstrated my commitment to serving others. Participation in karate, including achieving the rank of second-degree black belt and traveling to Japan for testing, showcased my perseverance and discipline. My involvement in Native American cultural activities highlighted my cultural identity while teaching youth martial arts classes showed my commitment to community service.

These non-academic achievements allowed me to stand out as a well-rounded individual, not just a student defined by academic performance. I made a point of highlighting these accomplishments in my scholarship applications whenever I could. Encourage your students to do the same, as it can significantly enhance their chances of success.

Here are some examples of non-academic achievements that will make your student look well-rounded and an excellent candidate for a scholarship:

  • Leadership and Service: Taking on leadership roles in school clubs, organizations, or community projects demonstrates initiative and teamwork. Volunteering showcases compassion, dedication to community betterment, and a willingness to contribute to society.
  • Arts and Creative Pursuits: Excelling in arts, music, dance, or drama showcases creativity and self-expression. Participating in competitions, exhibitions, or performances highlights dedication, passion, and the ability to handle performance pressure.
  • Athletic and Sports Achievements: Participation in sports teams demonstrates discipline, teamwork, and the ability to strive for excellence under pressure. Achieving recognition or awards in sports highlights dedication, perseverance, and the ability to excel in competitive environments.
  • Technical and Practical Skills: Mastering technical or practical skills, such as programming, web design, or robotics, demonstrates aptitude for applied knowledge, problem-solving abilities, and the ability to adapt to technological advancements.
  • Entrepreneurial Ventures: Starting a business, developing a product or service, or participating in entrepreneurial competitions showcases initiative, creativity, business acumen, and the ability to turn ideas into tangible outcomes. Successful entrepreneurial endeavors highlight problem-solving skills, risk-taking ability, and the ability to manage and lead projects.
  • Language Proficiency: Mastering foreign languages beyond the required curriculum demonstrates linguistic aptitude, cultural awareness, and the ability to communicate effectively across diverse cultures. Achieving proficiency certifications or participating in international language competitions highlights dedication, cross-cultural understanding, and the ability to apply language skills in practical settings.

Help Your Student By Offering Encouragement

As a homeschooled student, I was determined to pursue higher education without the financial burden of tuition. Throughout my academic journey, I applied to over a hundred scholarships. Each rejection email and letter brought a feeling of disappointment and hurt. However, my perseverance paid off, as I was eventually awarded enough scholarships to cover the tuition costs for both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

The scholarship search process can be emotionally demanding for students.

Repeatedly crafting essays and submitting applications, hoping to convince a panel of judges of their worthiness, can lead to feelings of frustration and self-doubt. The pressure to secure funding, especially after numerous applications without success, can be overwhelming. Students may feel pressure about the financial burden of college and their inability to alleviate their parents’ financial concerns.

Parents, remind your students that applying for scholarships is a numbers game. They will apply to a lot of them and only get a few.

The competitive nature of the application process means that reviewers are seeking specific qualities to find the most suitable candidates. This can be discouraging for your student, leading them to question their chances of success. As a parent, your support and reassurance can make a significant difference. Encourage them to continue putting forth their best effort and to focus on their strengths and accomplishments.

Rising Above Rejection

My pursuit of a scholarship through the American Indian College Fund spanned three years, and it was an emotional roller-coaster. Each application required a comprehensive personal essay, requiring a thorough reflection on my academic achievements, community engagement, and personal growth. With each passing year, I enriched my academic record, expanded my community service endeavors, and refined my essay-writing skills.

The first rejection I didn’t think too much of, I was still learning the scholarship process. The second rejection brought a wave of discouragement. I didn’t know what else I could do to strengthen my candidacy. I couldn’t fit anything else into my schedule. This is where my parents stepped in to remind me that the rejections were not a reflection of my personal worth or academic achievements; they were a natural part of the process.

To be honest, I didn’t want to apply for the scholarship a third time, dreading the possibility of another rejection. The fear of being labeled “good but not good enough” weighed heavily on me, and I didn’t want to risk it. However, my mom’s firm insistence had me rewrite my academic achievements, community involvement, personal growth, and aspirations.

Seeing Beyond Rejection to Discover Opportunity

Finally, on the third attempt, my persistence paid off. Throughout the three years of my continual applications, I didn’t know how much the scholarship was worth. Elation, disbelief, and pure relief flooded me when I saw it: a full academic year’s tuition covered for my most expensive degree yet (MBA). This experience showed me the power of resilience, persistence, and a strong support system. Sometimes, the biggest rewards follow the longest wait.

Entering my final MBA semester, my parents asked about reapplying for that scholarship. Hesitantly, I contacted the American Indian College Fund, unsure if past recipients nearing graduation were eligible. Surprisingly, they encouraged my application, and my fourth attempt was successful, securing my last semester’s tuition and a debt-free graduation.

As a parent, try to embrace the collaborative spirit of the scholarship application process with your student. By working together, you can navigate the intricacies of applications, cultivate valuable skills, and forge a deeper connection. As your student embarks on their educational journey, their success will be a testament to your support and guidance throughout the scholarship application process.

Fallon Berumen

Fallon Berumen is an educational entrepreneur and owner of Fallon was homeschool and by 9th grade was taking college and high school concurrently. By the age of 20, she had achieved remarkable academic feats, earning three degrees (AS, BS, and MBA). While in the MBA program, Fallon gained valuable experience in the corporate world.

Fallon’s passion for education and desire to empower others led her to found Your College Sensei, a platform dedicated to providing practical and insightful guidance to parents and students navigating the challenges and opportunities of college life. Leveraging her own unique experiences and expertise, Fallon helps students develop the skills and knowledge needed to excel academically, personally, and professionally.