Winning and finding culinary scholarships may not be as hard as you might think. You just have to know where to look, and how to apply.
Part 1: Where to Look for Cooking and Culinary Scholarships
Here's a sample of groups and organizations that often offer culinary scholarships:
- Fastweb.com - the online directory with hundreds of thousands of scholarships, many geared just for culinary students!
- Community and Civic Groups
- Professional Organizations
- Businesses, Corporations and Employers
- Charitable Foundations
- Cooking schools — This may seem obvious, but students often overlook scholarships offered by the very schools to which they're applying.
Identify as many of these possibilities as you can. Look locally, too.
Of course, you only want to put your valuable time into applying for the scholarships which best suit your ambitions… or the ones you can make out to fit your ambitions. For now, though, put down everything you come across that's even close, and once you've finished your list, take a good, hard look at which options are most worth your efforts.
Part 2: Winning Cooking and Culinary Scholarships
Give Yourself Time
When you give yourself plenty of time, you can "position" yourself much better to qualify.
In other words, if there are requirements that you may not have met or excelled in, now you have a year to do it and really impress the judges! Take a hard look at what past winners did to win, and learn from what they did right. Maybe even track them down to see what they did and how they did it.
If you start late, then it's less likely that you'll have done exactly what the judges are looking for, and you may have to stretch things to make it appear that you did. That isn't the best position to be in.
If possible (and it's not always possible), do what you can to talk to some of the people granting the scholarships and find out specifically what they're looking for. Often, organizations will have summaries of winning applications for you to review – definitely inquire about that!
There may be more to the application than you'll find in the instructions.
Most people turn their stuff in at the last minute, so you'll stand out from the crowd when you apply early.
First impressions last! If your application is strong, and you get it in the hands of the judges early, then there's a much better chance that they will remember you. You need to show that you're different from the rest, more deserving than the rest. An important way to do that it to get it done before the rest – one to two weeks in advance should be plenty.
Start early, think ahead. Your chances will be much better.
Reality Check #1: Be wary of folks on the web, in the mail or on the phone who tell say you must pay them in order to get a scholarship. The offers may sound enticing, but it also may be a marketing trick.
Reality Check #2: You won't find too many culinary scholarships that will provide a free ride the entire way through the college experience. Yes, there are some. But the competition is fierce, with thousands of students applying, and you'd better not bet your house that you'll get one — no matter how good you are.