It's no secret that colleges look to students' leadership and volunteer experience when determining who they select to join their ranks. If you're serious about getting into college, you know that your applications should cover the leadership skills you've acquired and volunteer work you've done while in high school. What you may not realize is that there are a lot of people out there who will pay you back big time for all the free work you've done over the last four years.
[Learn more about finding college scholarships.]
If you don't have any volunteer experience under your belt, these scholarships should be the ultimate motivation to get yourself moving immediately. On the other hand, if you've thrived by paying it forward, consider a job in public service upon graduation. After 10 years of full-time public service work, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program will forgive whatever outstanding principal and interest remains from your federal loans. Who doesn't love free money?
[Discover other scholarship opportunities for volunteers, and learn about nonmonetary awards and loan forgiveness programs.]
Here are more scholarship opportunities:
Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship Program: Do you live in a community served by Comcast? The Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship program awards $1,000 one-time scholarships to students who are involved in their school, serve their communities, and strive to reach their highest potential. Your high school principal or guidance counselor must nominate you for this scholarship, so if you think you deserve a shot, definitely reach out to the appropriate person at your school to make sure they know about the scholarship (and why you deserve it).
Disabled American Veterans Jesse Brown Scholarship: If you're looking for a place to volunteer, visit your local VA Medical Center to learn about all of the opportunities they have available for area high school students. If you volunteer 100 hours over one year, you'll be eligible to apply for the Jesse Brown Scholarship from Disabled American Veterans and could win up to $20,000 toward your education.
National or Regional Student Volunteer of the Year Award from Dollars for Scholars: Those who live in one of the 1,000+ communities served by a Dollars for Scholars chapter are eligible to apply for the Student Volunteer of the Year award through their local chapter. If you win one of the $500 regional scholarships, you'll automatically be entered to win the $1,000 national scholarship for a grand total of $1,500 in scholarships toward college. Winners are chosen based on volunteerism, community service, and academics.
Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes: The Gloria Barron Prize honors young leaders who have made a significant and positive difference to people and the planet. If you're between the ages of 8 and 18 and have led and organized a "truly extraordinary service activity," you may want to ask a teacher, adviser, or counselor to consider nominating you for a chance to win a $2,500 scholarship.
Heart of America Christopher Reeve Award: The Heart of America Christopher Reeve Award is presented each year to an extraordinary youth who has demonstrated tremendous compassion and caring in serving his or her community. Award recipients must be nominated by a nonrelative for a chance to receive a $1,000 scholarship for postsecondary education.
National Caring Award: The Caring Institute's National Caring Award recognizes individuals of all ages who share a deep sense of public service and a selfless concern for others. To receive a young adult Caring Award, including the $2,000 scholarship that goes with it, you must be nominated before graduation from high school or by your 18th birthday.
Michelle Showalter joined Scholarship America in 2007 and is an alumna of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.