One of the best ways to help pay for college is through scholarships. It’s how I graduated college with no student loan debt (read more about it in my previous post here). There are so many scholarships available, the hardest part is just finding out about them. Once you find scholarships, apply to all of them. Even if you don’t think you meet all the requirements, apply anyway! Because you never know, maybe they didn’t have enough applicants and you’ll get selected!
In college, I applied for every scholarship I heard about. One scholarship said it was for “minority” engineers. A minority could be race, ethnicity, or gender. Since women were considered minorities in engineering at my school, I was qualified to apply for the scholarship. Many other scholarships I applied for and received were either based on being a female engineer and/or my academic achievements.
It is very helpful to have a high GPA in high school and college. It helped me stay competitive for being selected for scholarships. Not all scholarships have a GPA criteria, but it will help set you ahead and apart for those that do. I had my tuition and books fully covered by an academic scholarship. I was selected based on my GPA, ACT test scores, and extracurricular activities.
Early in high school it is important to start getting involved in activities and sports, taking SAT and ACT prep courses and studying to achieve good grades. I did all that and still managed to have fun in high school – so it is possible! And it was totally worth it! I can’t say enough how amazing it was to graduate college with no debt! In the first few years after graduating and starting my first engineering job, I was able to save and buy a new car, put 20% down on a new house, and go on a vacation to Europe. I would not have been able to afford to do all that if I also had student loans to repay.
During my first 2 years in college, I struggled a bit and didn’t have the highest GPA. I was able to turn it around in my last 2 years, and I graduated cum laude, but it took a lot of hard work! That being said, I still applied for and received several scholarships during my first few years of college when I had ~3.0 GPA. So you don’t have to be a straight A, 4.0 GPA student to get all the scholarships! Many don’t have GPA requirements, and some that do are as low as 2.5.
Another thing that helped me be selected for many scholarships was my extracurricular activity involvement. I did a wide range of extracurricular activities in high school and college, from academic to fine arts to sports. I also took on leadership roles whenever possible in my clubs. In high school I was president of band council and trumpet section leader. In college I was vice president of my college sections for Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). Being in a leadership role in these activities not only helped improve my scholarship chances, but it also looked great on my resume and gave me leadership experience to talk about in interviews. Most importantly in my eyes, some of the best memories I made in high school and college were through my leadership involvement in extracurricular activities.
As I hear about scholarship opportunities, especially for those specifically for woman engineers, I will add them to this post. Here are a few opportunities available for you to look into today:
- The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) offers many scholarships for women engineering students. Many deadlines have already passed for their scholarships, but it’s never too early to start looking for scholarships to apply for next year! Click here to learn more about SWE’s scholarship offerings.
- EngineerGirl is an impressive resource for girls interested in becoming an engineer. They have so much to offer, from information about engineers, what they do, and how to get there. They have a dedicated scholarship page with an extensive list of scholarships for female engineers.
- MyDegreeGuide.com has created a resource page listing 150 scholarships for women, including at least 25 STEM specific scholarships. You can find the guide here.
If you know of scholarships for female engineering students, please contact me to let me know, and I will add them to this list.