By talked with school counselors to help unravel the mystery of winning a scholarship. While there may be no "magic formula," we did uncover some useful advice for making yourself a great scholarship (and college) candidate.

Tip #1: Get involved in something you are passionate about

Every school counselor we interviewed had this piece of advice: "Be yourself."

Do not think of this process as trying to fit into some "scholarship winner's" mold. Pursue activities that you enjoy doing and participate in organizations that you are passionate about.

There are thousands of organizations out there looking to give money to high-achieving students, whatever the activity may be. Not every scholarship requires that you participate in a sport, that you be on the school newspaper, or that you play an instrument.

Tip #2: Quality over Quantity

Pick a handful of activities and do them well. Most scholarship committees are not interested in seeing that you participated in dozens of activities for 5 minutes each, but would rather know that you dedicated considerable chunks of time to a few activities.

Scholarship committees want candidates who have made significant progress towards a goal or who have achieved something meaningful. By really immersing yourself in an activity, you demonstrate that you are a committed and responsible person

Tip #3: Don't Just Participate, LEAD!

Scholarship committees want people with initiative. They want students who will squeeze what they can out of the opportunity that a college education offers.

Therefore, once you've selected the activities in which you are interested, it is important to display as much leadership and initiative as possible. Don't just join the environmental club, start a recycling program. If you are in the Spanish club, run for treasurer.

Tip #4: Make Yourself Known

Don't be a stranger to teachers and school counselors. They can be great resources of information on college, scholarships, and other opportunities in your school and your community.

Also, lots of scholarships require letters of recommendation. If you have built a strong relationship with a handful of teachers and counselors, they are better equipped to write effective recommendations. This could just be the difference between being a finalist and winning a scholarship.

Tip #5: Keep Track of Your Accomplishments

Don't just throw away your "A" papers or your 1st Place ribbons. Start a file where you can save all these important documents and awards. They will come in handy down the line when you are preparing your scholarship and college applications.

An outstanding English paper could give you a great idea for a scholarship essay. A collection of your Speech Team ribbons could help you as you create a list of all your high school achievements.

Tip #6: Be Confident

Don't sell yourself short. Most students have a story to tell about their accomplishments. The easiest way to be eliminated is by not applying at all.