My Fastweb Experience
This past weekend, I listened in on a college discussion panel. There were a few recent college graduates and a current college student discussing college life and giving a few tips to the high school students. One question came up about scholarships and the panel stated that the scholarship process is very hard and that college scholarship essays are typically 4-5 pages long. My heart dropped when I heard this. I was outraged that they were giving this false advice and potentially deterring high school students from applying for scholarships when they didn’t apply for many themselves. That was probably why they had ALL graduated with so much debt. The main one that said the scholarship process was difficult said she graduated debt-free because her mom paid for all of her schooling but later disclosed that her mom had $75,000 worth of debt. That is NOT graduating college debt-free or anywhere close to it.
Hearing the panel’s thoughts made me think back to when I just started the scholarship search process. When I first started the scholarship process, I remember being really nervous and worrying that I wouldn’t qualify for any scholarships. I worried that I would spend a ridiculous amount of time looking for, finding, applying to, and writing essays for scholarships only in the end to NOT win them. I also remember first arriving at fastweb, one scholarship search engine, seeing the smiling faces on the front page of past scholarship winners with large amounts that they won, and THEN thinking “WOW I really can win that, that can be me on that front page.” (Now I know their marketing was GOOD)
So I eagerly went and signed up for a fastweb account.
Up popped thousands of scholarships that the fastweb search engine said I was eligible for. Immediately I felt overwhelmed. Where do I start? Which one should I apply to first? Millions of questions went racing through my mind and it was just all too much. I went from afraid and nervous to optimistic and confident to overwhelmed and miserable all in about 45 seconds!
So I walked away from the fastweb search engine and started watching TV instead. Have you done that before? Maybe you felt overwhelmed and ended up watching youtube videos instead or logged on facebook or checked your email and never really got back to the task you were supposed to do?
Well days later, actually it was WEEKS later, I decided that I put off fastweb long enough. I was going to sit down and just do it. So I answered the questions, filled out the essay, and hit submit. The process felt like it took forever! And each application that I filled out on fastweb was actually 5 pages long or more! (So the panelist was actually right, somewhat. There are some applications that are 5 pages long or more. Usually these scholarships are found on fastweb and other search engine websites. But, the majority of scholarship applications are only 2 pages long. These 2 pages consist of a 300-500 word essay and a few short answer questions that ask you to list some basic information about yourself.) I remember thinking, “I never want to do this again.”
Months past and I did not hear anything about the fastweb scholarships that I had applied for. I guess I didn’t win. I wondered why I didn’t win. Was I not qualified? Did they not get my scholarship? Did they not like what I had to say?
I later learned that the most known scholarships (the ones that you hear of the most and that are usually featured first on scholarship database websites like fastweb) are also going to be the most competitive scholarships because a lot of people know about them and are applying. The more people who know about a scholarship, the more competitive the scholarship will be to win, and the less likely you are to win unless you have a stellar application.
So I started focusing on finding scholarships that were less known and I started WINNING!
What CBS News Says About Fastweb
My experience with fastweb and other scholarship search engines wasn’t so good and I wasn’t the only one that had this experience. In fact, CBS news had an article out that stated that Fastweb was ineffective and produced zero promising scholarship matches for the users. The article also mentioned other scholarship search engine websites and said that they weren’t too effective either at matching students to worthwhile matches.
By: Shanice Miller, founder of DebtFreeCollegeGrad.com