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Summer activities can help win scholarships

As a high school senior, Marianne Ragins made headlines when she received a record-breaking $400,000 in scholarship funds. She’s written a book called “Winning Scholarships for College,” in which she takes readers through a step-by-step process for finding and winning money for college.
Excerpted from the book, here are five summer activities that can help student win scholarships:
1. Start researching now. — Many of the largest scholarship programs have deadlines starting in early fall. For the best chance at meeting deadlines and actually winning scholarships, students shouldn’t wait until they actually get accepted to the school of their dreams to apply. In fact, they don’t even have to wait until senior year. They can win money for college as early as age 6.
Even if a student is getting ready to start their freshman year or another year in college this fall, they should start researching in the summer to get ready for early fall deadlines. Once a student gets a list of scholarship programs, web sites, and deadlines, they should create a monthly planner to stay on track and apply for every scholarship available to them.
2. During the summer, students should participate in at least two community service activities. Not only can some scholarships be won on the basis of community service alone; nearly all scholarship programs want to see students who get involved in activities that benefit others.
They also love students who can recognize a school or community issue and successfully come up with a way to solve it. Community can really make the difference between winning and losing a scholarship competition.
3. Register for Google Alerts to get e-mail updates about recently written articles concerning scholarships, college and financial aid. New scholarship programs can be introduced at any time. Using Google Alerts and choosing to “Like” The Scholarship Workshop on www.facebook.com/scholarshipworkshop or following on Twitter @ScholarshipWork can help keep students informed about current and newly created scholarship programs for which they might be able to apply.
4. Find programs that earn students and parents free cash for college. — Although they don’t offer scholarships, programs such as upromise.com can help with the tuition bill. These are free programs that allow individuals to register credit and frequent shopper cards to earn rebates into a college savings account. If someone buys food at grocery stores in order to eat or has a gas pedal in their car, they can get money for college with these programs.
5. Begin working on a student activities résumé. Even if a student has already started a résumé they should update it, and highlight any areas that need attention. For example, perhaps they need more community service or leadership (which can also include mentoring or tutoring). Extracurricular and community service activities will help students stand out among a crowd of other scholarship applicants. The résumé should showcase their qualities as a well-rounded and involved student who has engaged in several meaningful activities.
“Winning Scholarships for College” is available at all major retailers and bookstores, including Barnes & Noble and www.amazon.com. It is also available at www.scholarshipworkshop.com or www.shop.scholarshipworkshop.com.

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