When you think about how many cars Toyota and General Motors sell or about how many cans of Coca-Cola the world consumes, you can see why large companies like these might take some of their profits and return them to students through scholarships. Unfortunately, most of these big business scholarships are aimed at high school students. But there is an exception. Sometimes companies use their scholarships to encourage students to enter a specific field that is related to the company's focus. Tylenol, for example, offers $250,000 in scholarships for students of any age in health-related fields, which makes sense for a pharmaceutical company.
Think about what you are majoring in (or planning to major in) as well as what sort of job you hope to get after you graduate. Then think about all the companies that make money from that profession. The best way to get your list started is to think of the industry that you are entering and then look at the companies within that industry.
For example, let's say that you are going back to school to finish up an English degree so you can work as an editor for a book publisher. So the “industry” that you want to enter is publishing; and if you look at the companies in this industry, you'll find the likes of American Greetings Corporation, McGraw-Hill and even Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. These are the companies that you'll want to explore for scholarship opportunities. If they offer any educational awards, they will probably be for students who want to enter the publishing industry or who are majoring in areas such as English, journalism or writing.
Whether you want to be a computer scientist or certified fraud examiner, there is a professional organization to support that occupation. In fact, in the U.S. alone, there are more than 135,000 professional associations. One of the missions of these organizations is to support students who want to enter the field with which they are affiliated. Many of them accomplish this by offering scholarships.
In our books, The Ultimate Scholarship Book and Get Free Cash for College, we list many of the best professional organizations that offer scholarships. You should also look for the Encyclopedia of Associations at your library. The latter is a multi-volume set that is extremely expensive to buy. Fortunately, most college libraries have this publication on their shelves, and it's worth setting aside some time in the stacks to find it. You will be pleased to discover a detailed list of nearly every association in the country.
Another way to find professional associations is to talk to the people who are already in these careers. If you're studying to be a dental assistant, talk to dental assistants and learn which associations they belong to. You can also go to the library and read the trade journals for the profession. Associations often advertise in these publications.
Even though they lack the pizzazz of the Internet, scholarship books should not be overlooked. A good book provides a huge number of awards and an index to help you find the ones that match your achievements and background. There are a lot of scholarship books—and most are somewhat expensive—so we recommend that you head to your local library or counseling center and browse through their collection. Regardless of which books you use, you should not ignore the value of traditional scholarship books and directories. They are a great source of awards as well as tips on how to win.
You are not the first person to look for scholarships. In fact, dozens of adults in your area have gone through the same process of looking for scholarships. Why not make use of their knowledge? You can contact the admissions office at colleges near you and ask to speak to a few adult students. You can also find people on the Internet who may be willing to share their knowledge. Of course, the most basic way to find people is to tell everyone you know that you are planning to go back to school and would love to speak to other adult students. When you meet with veteran adult students, ask them what resources they found helpful and what advice they have to make your search easier.
Gen and Kelly Tanabe
Founders of SuperCollege and authors of 13 books on college planning.
By: Gen & Kelly Tanabe
Learn how to go back to school without going broke. This is the only book that shows you how to find the best scholarships for adult students, get your employer to pay, have your student loans forgiven and much more.