Winning a scholarship to business school may not be as hard as it seems. Finding the right one, however, is an entirely different matter.
Even though there are thousands of scholarshiops available — maybe one being offered right now in your own hometown– you probably haven’t ever heard about most business scholarships. That’s because, most often, they aren’t advertised too loudly.
So, where can you find them?
THE GOOD NEWS: There are hundreds and hundreds of scholarship opportunities available to students studying business, and you’re probably eligible for more than a few of them.
THE BAD NEWS: None of them are going to jump up and grab you.
Where to Look
First, register for our sister site FastWeb. FastWeb lists thousands of scholarships in a vast array of fields, and many in business. Some scholarshipsthey list target certain geographic areas, others are national in scope. FastWeb’s service works to match your specific profile with any and all applicable scholarships in their database.
Got that done? Now use the rest of these ideas to complement your FastWeb search.
Start a list… it could get big!
Here’s a sampler of who offers business scholarships:
- High Schools, College and University Business Departments
- Community and Civic Groups
- Professional Organizations
- Your Employer, Local Businesses and National Chains
- Charitable Foundations
The first step will be to identify as many of these possibilities as you can.
Then start a table, chart or spreadsheet with columns like "Sponsor," "Scholarship Name," "Contact Name," "Phone number," "Amount," "Requirements," and (very importantly) "Deadline."
Of course, you only want to put your valuable time into applying for the scholarships which best suit your ambitions. For now, though, write down every scholarship you come across that’s even close to what you want or what you qualify for. Then, once you finish your list, you’ll be able to take a good, hard look at which options are most worth your efforts.
The Most Excellent Starting Points
Your high school
Talk to your high school guidance counselor to see what kinds of scholarships and awards are available for your particular business interest. Many counselors consider it part of their job to help you find scholarship opportunities, so they keep a file of them or a bulletin board with recent flyers they’ve received. This could prove to be a treasure trove of opportunities!
Very often, high schools themselves offer rewards for the best students, or the most dedicated individuals from clubs and activities, which could include a business-oriented club. If your high school doesn’t offer a scholarship or award, then at the very least, your Counselor should be able to steer you toward other sources.
Most business departments offer scholarships to students attending their schools, either directly through the school or through businesses, benefactors and foundations that support the school. Many of them also offer scholarships to prospective students. This will probably be one of your best resources for finding scholarships.
If you’re attending or planning to attend a university, contact your program advisor to ask what scholarships are available–if you’re already attending, ask your business instructors, too.
And don’t forget to look for scholarship opportunities on the business department’s web site or on a bulletin board near the department office on-campus, where they also are often posted.
Most universities do offer scholarships to students attending their schools, because they really, really want to keep them there. These kinds of scholarships are the easiest to find out about, but somehow they are overlooked by many students who could benefit greatly from the funding –and from the prestige of winning!
Community and Civic Groups
Chances are, there are local community-based groups in your hometown or county that are involved in the business of supporting businesses (most notably the Chamber of Commerce, but there are many others). Very often, members of these groups pay dues, organize fundraisers, and then… guess what? They offer scholarships to local people, like you, who want to pursue an education in business!
These kinds of groups may not be easy to find, but you might try digging for information through the following:
- Yellow Pages– Check for business organizations, including your own specialty of interest
- City Hall — Ask about community groups involved in supporting business
- Newspapers– Look in the Calendar Section for business-related events, such as trade shows, and mark down the sponsoring groups. Better yet, call the business editor or reporter and ask them what they know about business scholarships.
- The Web – Scan for civic and community organizations using the towns in your area and your area of interest in business as the key words.
Here are a few possibilities that we’ve seen, which you might want to check out:
- Rotary Clubs
- Lion’s Club
- 4-H Club
- Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts
If there are local chapters of any of these national and international civic groups, it’s worth giving them a call to see if they offer scholarships of any kind and, specifically, if they offer scholarships for future business leaders like you. You could also ask business professionals you know what local organizations they belong to. Hopefully, they will have contact information for the group, and they might even be able to put in a good word for you!
Professional Organizations and Associations
By definition, professional organizations are designed to promote their profession. In large part, that entails the development of future professionals, and scholarships are a great way for them to promote that.
There are swarms of professional organizations for every discipline imaginable in business, dealing with marketing, advertising, economics, finance, accounting, public relations, and more on a local, regional, national and international basis.
For your "scholarship ideas list," here’s a small taste of the professional groups which we know offer Business Scholarships:
- American Accounting Association
- American Marketing Association
- American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
- Association of School Business Officials
- Illinois Association of Realtors
- Institute of Management Accountants
- National Association of Black Accountants
- National Black MBA Association
- National Business Association
- National Society of Accountants
- National Society of Hispanic MBAs
- Public Relations Society of America
- Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants
- Women Economic Developers of Long Island
In your search, keep in mind that many national groups have local affiliates. And remember how much better your chances are when you start local! So, when you find an international or national organization, be sure to look a little more closely (or give a quick call) to see if there is a local chapter in your state or region.
Note: Sometimes, you may need to actually be a member, or student member, of a professional organization to qualify.
Businesses and National Chains
One creed that all successful businesses adhere to is that you have to keep your customers happy. A great way to do that is to show how much you care about them and their community once in a while. And guess what? For some of them, offering Business Scholarships or awards is a great way to do that. Here are a just few that we’ve found so far:
- D.W. Simpson & Company
- Hewlett-Packard Global Business Challenge
- Illinois Minority Real Estate Scholarship Program
- United Agribusiness League
If you’re really serious about pursuing a business scholarship, you should investigate as many big businesses as you can. Again, this information is not always readily available, so you may have to dig. Scan the web site, call the corporate office, write a quick letter– do whatever it takes to find out if you stand a chance. Note: Be sure to specialize in pursuing the big businesses that specialize in your area of interest (for example, you could look into Merrill Lynch for a finance scholarship, or Wells Fargo for a banking scholarship– who knows what you’ll find).
The competition is pretty stiff to receive funding from charitable foundations, even from the local ones. That’s because they do a pretty good job of soliciting applicants, and the awards are often larger than the smaller groups. Nevertheless, there are hundreds of these organizations giving away millions of dollars every year. If you know of any locally, you should inquire.
There are certainly many other types of organizations that offer funding for business students in the form of grants, fellowships and scholarships. That includes government agencies, education associations, fraternities and sororities, and who knows what else. Here are a few ideas to get you started thinking about where to look:
- Beta Alpha Psi
- Community Bankers Scholarship Program
- Daughters of the American Revolution
- Delta Mu Delta
- Future Business Leaders of America
- Government Finance Officers Association
- Military Benefits Association – MBA Scholarships
As you can see, there are a lot of possibilities for finding business scholarships.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that you will find a dozen, or even a half-dozen opportunities just waiting for you. But you might!
Now the next challenge is to win one.