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Build Your Own Scholarship Support Network

Every good adventure has a crew. Whether it's George Clooney and Brad Pitt looking to knock off a casino or Frodo who must destroy the One Ring, you are only as good as your team.

So why is it that every student we know looks for scholarships alone?

Are you afraid of sharing what you find? Do you worry about increasing the competition? Or maybe you just assumed that finding scholarships is not a team sport?

Whatever the reason, if you are looking for scholarships by yourself you could be missing out big time.

One of the students, Emanuel Pleitez, won over $30,000 in scholarships and credited much of his success to the fact that early on he formed a scholarship support network. Emanuel’s support network consisted of his friend, coach and senior class advisor. Since Emanuel did not own a computer he was able to borrow his friend's PC to print his applications. He and his friend also exchanged the names of awards that they found. In fact, Emanuel's friend won one of the scholarships that Emanuel originally discovered.

When Emanuel needed advice and feedback on his scholarship essays, he turned to his coach and advisor. They provided him with invaluable suggestions that helped to improve his essays.

On the night before one application was due, Emanuel had to drive to the post office at the Los Angeles Airport since it was the only branch open until midnight. Tired from days of writing and editing, Emanuel was fortunate that his friend volunteered to ride with him to make sure he didn't fall asleep on the road.

Throughout the scholarship process, Emanuel had a group of people who he could count on to help and keep him motivated. After all, finding and winning scholarships is not easy and it makes sense that you’ll stand a much better chance of success if you face the challenge with others.

As for increasing the competition … that should not be a factor. Sure, maybe you find a scholarship that you share with your network and one of your friends also applies. So what? Chances are there will be dozens (or more) other applicants and one more person is not going to affect your odds. Plus, what you gain in having another person out there looking for scholarships will more than compensate for any added competition. After all, you are guaranteed to lose the scholarship that you never knew existed.

So take a lesson from successful applicants and team up with your friends who are also looking for scholarships. Help motivate each other and reach out to others such as relatives, teachers and coaches who can give you advice.

Together your network will find more scholarships to apply to than you ever could by yourself. And in the end you will win more money.

And if your friends need a little push to join the network borrow the line that Clooney and Pitt used when they approached a potential recruit by throwing out the challenge, "Are you in or out?"