Are you like me? Do you love bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils? The feel of a newspaper in your hand and the feel of elation after writing in the final letter of a crossword puzzle on a weekend? I would not be surprised if most of my grad school comrades would agree that the sensation of walking into a used bookstore and the tactile feel of a rare book is something that I hope never goes completely by the wayside in the Kindle/Nook/ebook-of-any-kind future. In fact, I spend most of my not-so-discretionary funds on books and am now making all of the stacks in my apartment into extra side tables.
(Moving all of these books will be SO FUN whenever that happens.)
If things really get real, I’ll tell you that I unplugged my microwave a couple of months ago and only realized it wasn’t plugged back in when I had my mom visit last weekend…
But that’s neither here nor there!
Clearly, there are some concessions I make… Refrigerators and modern plumbing are great. Obviously, I use a computer (quite happily, I might add). I also have a smartphone that is my one saving grace from not getting lost every single place that I go, as well as the best way to activate my swag while waiting for the BART.
What I’m talking about today is not so much regarding general lifestyle associations with being a luddite. Instead, I want to focus our attention on the benefits of going beyond the internet resources in scholarship searches. Some of the information in this post may seem obvious, but consider it a hopefully helpful reminder and an impetus to get to work on finding funding for your education!
To begin with, you may start your search on the interwebs, say on a database such as this incredibly thorough and comprehensive and well-organized one put together for you by the Graduate Theological Union (that wasn’t a bit gratuitous, was it?).
One of the things that I have noticed is that applications that need to be submitted via hard copy generally have fewer applications or expressions of interest than those where you can just send a quick email…
I’m guilty of it too! Sending an email is clearly easier and less time-consuming than taking the time to write/print a letter, stick it in an envelope, and pay the $57 or however much it is to mail a letter these days. However, if it means that there may be a smaller applicant pool, you should really give it a shot.
Along these same lines, there may be some entries in our database that have no email address, but a phone number is listed.
In that case, a phone call may not only give you valuable submission information, but could also serve to open the doors of communication for you with those that are administering the scholarship or grant. Conversations may make you a more memorable candidate, and may help your name to stick out when the committee is sorting through the applications!
The moral of this story is that you can never underestimate the power of a hand-written letter or a genial conversation in this age of digital communication!
Searching on the internet for scholarships is, of course, a great place to start. However, if you want to get a leg up on the competition, perhaps it’s time to put on the walkin’ boots and mosey on over to the public library.
Meet your new best friend, The Grants Register.
Walk in and head over to the reference section. There are so many great books that give great information on possible scholarships and grants, some specific to the humanities or social sciences, so take some time to look through the stacks. Then grab the ones that interest you, including The Grants Register. This little diddy will take a good couple of hours to work your way through, so don’t expect to come in and knock this out in a hurry, since you can’t take it out of the library. This is a totally comprehensive tome of post-graduate and professional grants that may or may not be found on the world wide web. There are literally thousands upon thousands of available resources for you, and they are cross-referenced, so there are a number of ways in which you can to your search. I have found some of the most specific and obscure scholarships that may only be applicable to 2 people in the world this way! Talk about increasing your odds… There is nothing quite like the thrill of finding a viable funder that you think nobody else could possibly know. Contact information is given with each entry, so you can contact the provider, even if they don’t have a website. Take a pen and paper with you (in true luddite fashion), and write down your findings.
Take your list home and get cracking!