Whether you just celebrated your first day of college or your last first day of college, your goal as a communication sciences and disorders (CSD) student is to flourish personally and academically. This can include exploring your interests to the fullest—and learning what it takes to become great in this field that we’re all so passionate about. In many ways, this is the best time of our lives. However, each of us also faces challenges and obstacles.
Financial stressors like paying for college are certainly some of the biggest challenges. That’s where scholarships can help. Many of them are out there, but where do you even start, how do you find them, and how do you apply?
As National NSSLHA’s Vice President for Academic Affairs, one of my roles is to report on scholarship opportunities for CSD students like you. I know that scholarships may not alleviate all of your financial concerns, but they certainly provide a promising starting point. You may be thinking, “I already have an overwhelming workload! Why should I add more tasks to my to-do list?” I completely understand, but if you set aside a small portion of your day to work on scholarship applications, the impact can be monumental and can alleviate a significant burden.
Here are seven tips for finding and applying for scholarships with S.U.C.C.E.S.S.
Start by researching scholarship opportunities. At National NSSLHA, we say, “Success Starts Here,” and that is true because we offer scholarships and scholarship resources. We have a comprehensive list of CSD student scholarships available to undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students. National NSSLHA awards 10 undergraduate scholarships of up to $1,000 to National NSSLHA members who are undergraduate sophomores and juniors (application deadline: December 31). Plus, undergraduate seniors heading to grad school qualify for the NSSLHA Graduate Scholarship through the ASHFoundation—worth $5,000. And, speaking of removing obstacles, National NSSLHA has improved the undergraduate scholarship application process, so it’s easier and more accessible than ever. You no longer need full letters of recommendation with your application. Instead, simply ask your referrers to provide their impressions of you using a Likert scale.
Additional scholarship opportunities are also listed on these web pages:
- National Black Association for Speech-Language and Hearing (NBASLH) scholarship page
- ASHA’s Finding Financial Aid page (lists scholarship programs for students from underrepresented minority groups)
- ASHA’s Multicultural Constituency Groups page
Understand that beginning your application early is ideal. Once you find the scholarships that you would like to apply for, write down all the deadlines. It’s important to give yourself ample time to review all the requirements, complete the requested materials, and proofread your application materials before submitting. Aim to begin your application at least 2 months before the deadline. This will give you time to prepare your application and ensure that you’re adhering to all of the application requirements.
Create a detailed and organized plan to complete your application. Being organized is the key to a successful application. It makes the process more manageable when you have a detailed plan of what is required and the time that you’ll need to set aside. Create a checklist with target dates for each requested item. For example, include in your plan the date by which you want to send emails to potential recommenders.
Connect with potential recommenders. Some applications may ask you to submit letters of recommendation. The application instructions will specify how many recommendation letters you’ll need—typically it’s two or three letters. I recommend thinking of four to five people who would write you a positive letter of recommendation. Having more than the required number of people in mind will help you avoid the scramble of finding a replacement if the person you ask isn’t able to complete it or if something unexpected comes up. Write a formal email asking the potential recommender to consider writing a letter on your behalf. Offer to schedule a meeting to discuss what you’re applying for. Reach out to potential recommenders early to give them ample time to consider the request and to write the letter.
Enhance your resume. Resumes serve as concise summaries that showcase your educational background, achievements, relevant experiences, and activities pertinent to your personal and professional objectives. Your resume should comprise five key sections: contact information (including your name and email address), educational history (including university name and degrees earned or in progress), work experience (emphasizing leadership and relevant roles), skills, and extracurricular involvement. Seek guidance from your university’s career center, and check out this blog, Build Your Resume That Tells Your Story, for additional tips. Remember to highlight any experiences that align with the scholarship you’re applying for by putting them closer to the top of your resume. Scholarship applications provide valuable insights into the qualities you should emphasize to become an ideal candidate. Some applications may ask about specific characteristics that they are seeking in a candidate. For example, a scholarship may ask about your leadership, community service, or another relevant characteristic, so ensure that you include examples of these experiences near the beginning of your resume. On October 17, National NSSLHA is offering a Resume Workshop virtual event with a panel of professionals to help you craft and revamp your resume.
Share your story. Answer essay questions in their entirety while also relating to your story and experience. This should be your spotlight where you’re able to express yourself—so, take advantage of it! For some tips on telling your story, check out this blog, “Scholarship Applications: Tell Your Story.”
Submit your application! After you’ve completed all requested application materials, ask someone to proofread your application to make sure that everything is completed, typo-free, and good to go. Submit your application with confidence—and don’t hesitate to apply for more!
There is no limit on how many scholarships you can apply for—don’t ever feel like you have to stop after one. One of my favorite quotes is by Tony Robbins: “The path to success is to take massive determined action.”
Take your own massive action! Put yourself out there and go after those opportunities!
PHOTO: Tynashia Whitaker is pictured fifth from left.