Understand the Different Types of Scholarships
There are a variety of scholarship types available, so it’s important to know all of your options. Perhaps the most widely known are merit-based scholarships, which are often awarded to the student with the highest grades, test scores, or other credentials. Other scholarships may be need-based, such as Pell Grants, which consider a applicant’s background and financial need. Donor-funded scholarships are often based on specific criteria such as minority status, gender, and locality and are funded by private donors. Finally, there are specialized scholarships which focus on specific activities or fields of interest, such as creative writing, sports, or volunteerism. Before embarking on your scholarship search, make sure to understand the different types of scholarships so that you can best determine which ones you should apply for.
Research Potential Scholarships
It can be intimidating to begin the scholarship search, but it’s important to take the time to explore the different available opportunities. Start by using online resources such as the U.S. Department of Labor or the CollegeBoard’s Scholarship Search to find both local and national scholarships you may apply for. Additionally, try to connect with former professionals in your desired field, as they can often provide insight or guidance on seeking scholarships. Moreover, speak to advisors at your institution or search for local scholarship providers in your community. Lastly, organizations such as guidance counselors and community foundations may provide resources for tracking down available scholarship opportunities.
Once you begin to compile scholarship leads, it’s important to research each one thoroughly. Be sure to review the requirements and eligibility criteria of each scholarship. As you research, make sure to read the fine print, and determine if this scholarship will meet your needs both in terms of amount of funds and the scope of the application. Additionally, research the sponsoring organization to ensure that the award fits within your interest, and determine the best approach for submitting your application. Gathering as much information as possible before hand will help you make a sound decision and determine which scholarship opportunities are best suited for you.
Create an Organizational System
It is important to create a system to stay organized with the research and application process. Start by setting up a spreadsheet or chart with columns for the name of each scholarship, the application requirements, the deadline, and the status of the application. This will allow you to review the submitted materials and access important information quickly easily.
Additionally, set up a folder for each scholarship you are applying to, and store all documents in it, including application forms, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and essays. Make sure to label everything clearly and keep track of the numbers and letters used by each scholarship. Keeping each scholarship organized in one place will help ensure that you don’t miss anything and that all required materials are included in your application.
Establish a Scholarship Calendar
Creating and maintaining a calendar of potential scholarship deadlines is essential to staying organized as you search and apply for scholarships. Make sure the calendar is easy to navigate so you can keep track of the due dates, scholarship criteria, and contact information for each opportunity. Once set up, you can use the calendar to keep track of deadlines, schedule calls and meetings with contacts associated with the scholarship, and set reminders for yourself.
To get started, prioritize scholarships into two categories, ‘Must Apply’ and ‘Consider Applying.’ Mark the due dates for each on your calendar. Then, use folders, labels, and tags to create an organized filing system that is easy to refer back to during the application process. Also, keeping digital records of all the relevant information and applications will save time during the application process and help avoid any misplacing of materials.
Understand the Requirements of Each Scholarship
Once you have identified potential scholarships you want to apply for, take time to research the details associated with each one. It is important to understand exactly what the organization is expecting in the application from its applicants. Knowing the expectations can help you ensure you have included all the information that is necessary to meet the criteria.
Read carefully over each application and the associated requirements. Some scholarships may have additional requirements that the applicant must meet. Those requirements could include exhibiting a certain grade point average or submitting paperwork, such as transcripts from educational institutions. Having this information beforehand can save time in the application process.
Prepare Application Materials
The application materials for scholarships can vary widely depending on the organization offering the award. Generally, the materials are designed to give a full picture of the student’s academic and extracurricular achievements. A student should compile records of any past awards, honors, or recognition for academics or service they have obtained. Any standardized testing scores, such as those from the SAT or ACT, should also be included. A student should also detail any extracurricular activities they have taken part in, such as athletics, clubs, or student government. Community activities outside of school should not be forgotten, as they can often make a strong case for a student’s character and leadership skills. Finally, the student should prepare an essay detailing their educational goals and the major impact a scholarship would have on their future plans. Essays should be written with care and personal reflection to make a strong impression on the scholarship committee.
Keep Track of Application Deadlines
Staying organized is key to ensuring that scholarship applications are timely and complete. One way of doing this is to keep an effective system for tracking deadlines. Create a spreadsheet or calendar and list all of the scholarships with their respective deadlines. Make sure to include all details such as due date, the website where the form can be filled out, and the contact information. Doing this will help to ensure that deadlines are met.
Staying organized also means tracking any submission receipts. This proves that the application has been sent in and is more likely to be reviewed. Track the date you submitted the application, as well as the time of delivery if possible. Keep hard copies of any emails or documents sent in and take note of any deadlines that have passed. Keeping up with this information can help guarantee that any applications are completed on time.
Follow Up After Submitting Your Application
Once you have submitted your scholarship applications, the waiting game begins. Following up after submitting your applications, while not a necessary step for all applications, can give you an advantage. Try to contact the scholarship provider after seven to ten days, just to make sure they have received and processed your application and to find out what the next steps are.
When reaching out, be polite and assertive. Ask for an update on the status of your application and if there’s anything else you can provide. The provider may want additional information or documents, so you may need to act quickly. If you do not hear from anyone after the initial contact, try to follow up two or three weeks later. This demonstrates your dedication and enthusiasm for the scholarship.