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Ah, scholarship money. Those coveted checks that are awarded to ease the pain of college tuition – not to mention books, housing, food, and all the other expenses that come with university living. There are thousands of scholarships available to students of all levels of school, from elementary to currently-enrolled college students. With so many scholarships available, why is it that most students assume they will never win one? Or worse, what about the student who has applied for numerous scholarships but still hasn’t won any?

Believe it or not, it’s not if you apply, but how you apply that may make or break a student’s chance of winning college scholarships. The high school valedictorian with a 4.2 GPA might seem impressive, but if his scholarship application is even a day late, he will not win. How about the student that worked in the soup kitchen, once? Is that truly a commitment to help others?




Creating a scholarship application that shines in every way is the key to winning scholarship money. How is a student to do that? The following 12 unique and extremely effective college scholarship winning tips will give any student a great start:

1 | The early bird gets the scholarship

Most students will apply for college scholarships in the spring of their senior year of high school. These students have already been accepted at a college and are being pressured by their parents to find a way to help pay that huge looming tuition bill. The scholarships with fall and early winter deadlines have less competition simply because fewer students apply for them. Students need to apply early and often and let no scholarship deadline pass them by.

2 | Impress right out of the envelope

Have you ever opened an envelope sealed with extra tape, crinkled from over stuffing, and/or smudged as a result of a leaky pen or wet weather? Yikes! Use a proper-sized large envelope, seal it carefully, and hand deliver it to the post office to give an application the extra edge over the others that seem to scream: I don’t care!

3 | Claim a clean email address

“Cutesexybaby@abc.com” may seem sweet and innocent, but a 65-year-old scholarship judge will probably not think so. “CarolineGSmith@abc.com” on the other hand is clean, does not make insinuations, and allows the judges to read the applicant’s name one more time, which makes that student effortlessly more memorable.

4 | Use the social media Grandma test

Just like email addresses, social media usernames and postings can be searched for and seen by scholarship judges. Profanely tweeting how you hate school and then announcing how you sure hope you win that recently-applied-for scholarship will backfire. What is posted on the internet does not go away and students need to use social media to share their strengths, talents, good works, and accomplishments. If you would not want your Grandma to read it, you should not post it.

5 | Personalize each scholarship deadline

Students are so busy these days with sports, extra-curricular activities, jobs,(hopefully) volunteering, and academics. As each scholarship is found, make a personal deadline of at least two weeks before the actual one. Submitting scholarship applications consistently early will ensure that no deadline is missed and all required materials are gathered and included without any last minute scrambling and frustration.

6 | Cash in on local scholarships

Like early scholarships, local scholarships have less competition. Find as many local scholarships as possible and even create situations that qualify your student to apply. Does a local credit union offer a scholarship? Open an account, and then apply. Is the Lions Club holding a scholarship competition but no one in the family is a member? Call them and see if someone from the local chapter would be willing to be a sponsor an area student. If you are polite, eager, and excited about college, they will be more inclined to help. Many club scholarships do not require that a student or family member has to belong to the club in order to apply for their scholarship, so always check guidelines before making assumptions.

7 | Go high school website hopping

Most high schools list local scholarships on their websites. Don’t settle for just your own high school site, however. Click on over to all other area high school websites and check out their scholarship lists. Take this idea step further and visit college websites in your state. Many list scholarships for all students in that state and not just for accepted or current students of that college. Read the guidelines for each scholarship carefully and make sure all requirements are met before beginning the application process.

8 | Label yourself

Create labels with the student’s name, address, phone number, and name of each scholarship to stick on all pages of each scholarship application. When scholarship judges have stacks of applications to read, pages often become separated, and trying to find the rightful owner is an easy reason for the application to get placed into the reject pile.

9 | Read the newspaper

Most newspapers have a “Names in the News” section announcing local accomplishments and awards won by area residents. Start reading this section daily and write down the names of local scholarships won by students who live in your area. By doing this, parents will soon have a very long detailed list of local scholarships their students can apply for the following school year.

10 | Resist the urge to text-type

Although more and more people are using texting as a form of communication, students need to resist the urge to text-type in their scholarship applications. A scholarship judge will have no patience for an application filled with lack of punctuation, non-use of capitalization, and abbreviations that require guessing. YKWIM? (You Know What I Mean? See, wasn’t that annoying?)

11 | Get past the first 30 seconds

When a scholarship judge has piles of applications to wade through, the first glance at each application can make or break its chances of being placed into the possible winners pile. Having no blank spaces, all required materials in the proper order, and nice neat paperwork will keep a student’s application out of that dreaded reject pile. This tip also goes for online-only applications. All uploads need to be attached properly and each submission guideline followed exactly as stated in the scholarship requirements.

12 | Know the numbers

Unless the scholarship guidelines specify a certain income level, students can go ahead and apply for the award if they feel they truly have financial need. Don’t assume your family makes too much money to apply. Some organizations consider any income under $100,000 as “needy” and many do not ask for financial information at all. Need I say more?

There’s no denying that smart students win college scholarships, but learning to smartly apply is the real key. Students need to use creative methods of finding and applying for scholarships and submit 100 percent complete applications. This will automatically increase their chances of winning and help them find even more money for college.

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As a former beauty editor, I pride myself in housing the best skincare products in my bathroom. Walk in and you're sure to be greeted with purifying masks, micellar water, retinol ceramide capsules and Vitamin C serums. What can I say? Old habits die hard. But when I had my son, I was hesitant to use products on him. I wanted to keep his baby-soft skin for as long as possible, without tainting it with harsh chemicals.

Eventually, I acquiesced and began using leading brands on his sensitive skin. I immediately regretted it. His skin became dry and itchy and regardless of what I used on him, it never seemed to get better. I found myself asking, "Why don't beauty brands care about baby skin as much as they care about adult skin?"

When I had my daughter in May, I knew I had to take a different approach for her skin. Instead of using popular brands that are loaded with petroleum and parabens, I opted for cleaner products. These days I'm all about skincare that contains super-fruits (like pomegranate sterols, which are brimming with antioxidants) and sulfate-free cleansers that contain glycolipids that won't over-dry her skin. And, so far, Pipette gets it right.

What's in it

At first glance, the collection of shampoo, wipes, balm, oil and lotion looks like your typical baby line—I swear cute colors and a clean look gets me everytime—but there's one major difference: All products are environmentally friendly and cruelty-free, with ingredients derived from plants or nontoxic synthetic sources. Also, at the core of Pipette's formula is squalane, which is basically a powerhouse moisturizing ingredient that babies make in utero that helps protect their skin for the first few hours after birth. And, thanks to research, we know that squalane isn't an irritant, and is best for those with sensitive skin. Finally, a brand really considered my baby's dry skin.

Off the bat, I was most interested in the baby balm because let's be honest, can you ever have too much protection down there? After applying, I noticed it quickly absorbed into her delicate skin. No rash. No irritation. No annoyed baby. Mama was happy. It's also worth noting there wasn't any white residue left on her bottom that usually requires several wipes to remove.

Why it's different

I love that Pipette doesn't smell like an artificial baby—you, know that powdery, musky note that never actually smells like a newborn. It's fragrance free, which means I can continue to smell my daughter's natural scent that's seriously out of this world. I also enjoy that the products are lightweight, making her skin (and my fingers) feel super smooth and soft even hours after application.

The bottom line

Caring for a baby's sensitive skin isn't easy. There's so much to think about, but Pipette makes it easier for mamas who don't want to compromise on safety or sustainability. I'm obsessed, and I plan to start using the entire collection on my toddler as well. What can I say, old habits indeed die hard.

This article was sponsored by Pipette. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Military families give up so much for their country, particularly when they have small children at home. Those of us who have never witnessed this kind of sacrifice first-hand could use a reminder of it once in a while, which is just one of the reasons we're so happy to see the beautiful photoshoot Mary Chevalier arranged for her husband's return home from Afghanistan.

The photoshoot was extra special because while James Chevalier was serving a nine-month deployment, Mary gave birth to their second son, Caspian.

Getting ready to meet Dad

"During the laboring and birthing process of Caspian, I was surrounded by family, but that did not fill the void of not having my husband by my side," Mary told InsideEdition.com. "He was able to video chat during the labor and birth, but for both of us, it was not enough."

While James had yet to meet Caspian, their 3-year-old son, Gage, missed his dad a whole lot, so this homecoming was going to be a big deal for him too. That's why Mary arranged for her wedding photographer, Brittany Watson, to be with them for their reunion in Atlanta.

Gage was so happy to see his Dad 

"[He] had no idea he was going to be getting to see his daddy that day," Watson wrote on Facebook. "The family met at the Southeastern Railway Museum for Gage to go on a special train ride... little did he know, he'd be doing it with daddy!"

Watson did a beautiful job capturing the high emotions of every single family member, from Gage's surprise, to the delight on baby Caspian's face. It's no wonder her Facebook post went viral last week.

"Caspian is natural, a very happy baby, but both James and I felt like Caspian knew who his father was almost immediately," Mary told Inside Edition. "He was easily comforted by me husband right off the bat and seemed to have an instant connection. It was very emotional."

The moment this dad had been waiting for 

If we're sobbing just looking at the photos, we can't even imagine what it was like in real life.

"We are all so blessed and take so much for granted," Watson wrote. "I cannot contain the joy I feel in my heart when I look at these images, and I hope you feel it too!"

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During both of my pregnancies, I was under the care of an amazing midwife. Every time I went to her office for check-ups, I was mesmerized by the wall of photos participating in what may be the most painfully magical moment of a woman's life: giving birth. But there was a painting that always drew my attention: a woman dressed in orange, holding her newborn baby with a face that could be described as clueless. The line above the canvas read, "Now what?"

I felt like the woman in the painting as I kissed my mother goodbye when my daughter was born. She came from my native Colombia to stay with us for three months. When she left, I realized that my husband had been working as usual during those first 90 days of our new life. My baby was born on a Friday and on Monday he was back at the office. (No parental leave policy for him.)


Now what? I thought. The quote "It takes a village to raise a child" suddenly started to hit home, literally.

After a few years in Miami, I had some friends, but it truly didn't feel like I had a village. Some were not mothers yet, most of them worked full-time and others didn't live close by. My nomad life left my best friends spread out in different places in the world. I found myself signing up for "mommy and me" classes in search of new mothers, immigrants like me, alone like me.

It seemed like a utopian dream to think about when my grandmothers became mothers. Both of them had 6 and 10 children and they were able to stay sane (or maybe not? I don't know). But at least they had family around—people cooking, offering help. There was a sense of community.

My mother and father grew up in "the village." Big families with so many children that the older siblings ended up taking care of the little ones; aunts were like second mothers and neighbors became family.

When I was about to give birth to my second baby, my sister had just had her baby girl back in Colombia. Once, she called me crying because her maternity leave was almost over. My parents live close to her, so that was a bonus. Hiring a nanny back there is more affordable. But even seeing the positive aspects of it, I wished I could have been there for her, to be each other's village.

The younger me didn't realize that when I took a plane to leave my country in search of new experiences 19 years ago, I was giving up the chance to have my loved ones close by when I became a mother. And when I say close by, I mean as in no planes involved.

It hasn't been easy, but after two kids and plenty of mommy and me classes and random conversations that became true connections, I can say I have a mini-village, a small collection of solitudes coming together to lean on each other. But for some reason, it doesn't truly feel like one of those described in the old books where women gathered to knit while breastfeeding and all the children become like siblings.

Life gets in the way, and everyone gets sucked into their own worlds. In the absence of a true village, we feel the pressure to be and do everything that once was done by a group of people. We often lose perspective of priorities because we are taking care of everything at the same time. Starting to feel sick causes anxiety and even fear because it means so many things need to happen in order for mom—especially if single—to lay down and recover while the children are taken care of. And when the children get sick, that could mean losing money for a working mother or father, because the truth is that most corporations are not designed to nurture families.

In the absence of that model of a village I long for, we tend to rely on social media to have a sense of community and feel supported. We may feel that since we are capable of doing so much—working and stay at home moms equally—perhaps we don't need help. Or quite the opposite: mom guilt kicks in and feelings of not being enough torment our night sleep. Depression and anxiety can enter the picture and just thinking about the amount of energy and time that takes to create true connections, we may often curl up in our little cocoon with our children and partners—if they are present—when they come home.

Now what? was my thought this week while driving back and forth to the pediatrician with my sick son. I can't get the virus, I have to be strong, my daughter can't get ill, my husband needs to be healthy for his work trip next week, we all need to be well for my son's fifth birthday. And so, it goes on. I texted one of my mom friends just to rant. She rants back because her son is also sick. She sent me a heart and an "I'm here if you need to talk."

I am grateful to have talked to her at that random postpartum circle when I first became a mother. She's a Latina immigrant like me and feels exactly like me. I will do it more, get out of my comfort zone and have—sometimes—awkward conversations so I can keep growing my own little village.

It may not look like the one I'd imagined, but still may allow me to be vulnerable even through a text message.

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Halloween is around the corner, but if you are like me you are still trying to figure out what to dress your family (especially the little ones), so here are some cute ideas inspired by famous characters. There's something for everyone—from cartoon lovers to ideas for the entire family!

Here are some adorable character costumes for your family:

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