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Going Back to School: Funding Your Dream
(Continued from 1)

Another wonderful resource in locating funding are Internet free scholarship searches. You complete some personal as well as some academic information and then search for scholarships that are compatible. The possibilities and the supplemental income are endless. FastWeb, for example, sends you an update whenever a new scholarship that fits your situation is available and you decide whether to apply or not. Some of the scholarships are offered by major corporations such as Calgon. Many are offered by not-for-profit organizations
such as Jeannette Rankin or The Sunshine Lady Foundation. Others are offered by businesses in the interest of advertising, such as You might also find local scholarships, such as the Illinois Sheriffs' Association Scholarship. So you see, the range is unlimited.

The next wonderful step in funding your dream with these types of scholarships, is the essay that most require with the application. This can be quite competitive since they are advertised nationally and the eligibility is extensive. If you’re new or returning to school after some years, writing an academic essay can be a daunting experience. What’s more, these organizations ask you to do something that older women, women in general, are not comfortable doing…tooting your own horn. Once you get into the swing of this though, it can be a freeing and rewarding activity. By the time you’ve reached the ages of 30 or 40, you’ve accomplished quite a few things and have probably seen at least a little of the world and life. They want to know about it. And since they will fund your dream for telling them, tell them!

And don’t be afraid to include hardships. They want to know you’re able to overcome obstacles because realistically, when you return to school in middle age, you will encounter obstacles. These organizations corporations need to feel comfortable that their money will not be wasted. Make them comfortable! Tell them what they want to hear.

Keep two very important things in mind when writing these essays:

1. Make it personal.
2. Answer the questions.

If, for example, they ask you how your life experience has contributed to your goals and how it will affect your future, don’t be vague or generalize. Don’t just write that raising a family has taught you to be flexible. Tell them about the time your husband planned a business dinner at your home on the same night of your daughter’s prom, which was the same weekend that you needed to complete the million dollar project due at work the following week, and what you did to pull it all off splendidly. Don’t tell them that struggling to raise children alone taught you how to persevere. Explain how you worked two jobs, spent hours helping with homework, attending extracurricular activities and then stayed up all night to wash the clothes and clean the house.

In other words, be specific. You did it! And you are still doing are accomplishing what you want to do. It’s exhilarating and because you desire it, the realization of your dream will be a success.

Donna Kiser retired from a ten year sentence in corporate America to follow her passion for writing and creating. She is currently a student at Columbia College Chicago, in pursuit of a bachelor's degree in creative writing.

See also Ten Tips for Adult Students to Maximize Financial Aid.

Additional Resources:

Scholarships for Re-entry StudentsScholarships for Re-entry Students: Grants and Retraining Assistance for Adults Returning to College.
Special 89 page report available for immediate download. Find the money to go back to school today.

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