A surprising number of students fail to see that identifying scholarships can be one of the most important parts of the successful scholarship search. There are thousands and thousands of scholarships available to students through internet searches and scholarship guides, but no one student will every qualify for all of them. Even if one person were to qualify for all of them, though, most students at UC Berkeley probably don't have the time to apply for each and every one. For this reason, a well-defined scholarship search can be invaluable to students looking for some extra money to fund their education, research proposal, or community service project.
The best and cheapest way to run a scholarship search is to find a good, reliable scholarship search engine (like the Scholarship Connection scholarship database.) Internet searches are free (or they should be!), and unlike scholarship guides that simply list awards, even when they are sorted by subject matter, the internet can help you filter out awards for which you simply don't qualify (the scholarship connection does maintain a list of free on-line search engines.) This means finding scholarships that are best suited to who you are, both as a student and as a person.
It may sound strange, but as a student with limited amounts of time, you should be selective in choosing the scholarships for which you spend the time to prepare an application. As noted above, there are many scholarships out there, and there are a probably a good number to which you could potentially apply. There are two questions you should ask yourself when choosing which scholarships are worth your time:
For whom are the scholarship selectors looking? The answer to this question should always be, "ME!" Before applying for a scholarship, make sure that you are the type of person or student that the foundation is looking for. In essence, you ought to be the ideal candidate for the award. For any given scholarship, even the small ones, there will probably be a lot of students applying, and many of them will in fact be the ideal candidate, and it is them, not you, who will win. What does it mean to be the ideal candidate? First and foremost, your demographic and academic information should match their scholarship requirements. If they want liberal arts majors, an engineering student might be wise to apply elsewhere. Second, what you expect to do with the money should match what the foundation expects you to do with the money. If they want people to use their generous funds to create a community service project, they will not fund proposals that will only fund your undergraduate education. As a note to both of these suggestions, never lie on your application. Not only is it unethical and illegal, but if you are ultimately a winner it could put you in a very uncomfortable position.
Are the scholarship worth the time I will spend on it? Many scholarships ask their applicants to run through a multitude of hoops before even considering the application. If you are applying for the Rhodes Scholarship, an internationally recognized scholarship for study in the United Kingdom, it is understandable. For a less-prestigious and less valuable scholarship, you may want to consider whether it is worth your time.