College Admissions: Get Started on Scholarship Applications
Wednesday, December 03, 2014
If you dedicate time to applying for scholarships, you may get a great return on your investment. Let’s say you spend four hours preparing a packet for the Elks Club Scholarship and win $1300 from your local chapter. That was $325 per hour for your time. It sure beats the $10 per hour you might earn working at a fast food place.
Seniors, if you have finished submitting your applications, this is a great time to turn your attention to scholarships. First and foremost, be sure you have applied for all the reasonable-for-you scholarships that are offered directly by the schools you applied to. It is important to check the school website carefully. Many schools consider all applicants for scholarships, but some schools have separate scholarship applications or even scholarship applications that are due before the actual college application deadline.
9th–11th graders, you too can begin to apply for scholarships! You might not know that there are thousands of scholarships available to 9th–11th graders. While 85% of scholarship money comes directly from colleges and the federal government, it is not too early to try for that other 15% of scholarship funds (usually referred to as “outside scholarships”).
If you have not already created profiles on some free scholarship search websites, you should do so. You might want to set up your email to automatically put scholarship matches into a separate folder (that you check frequently) so that your regular email is not too stuffed with potential scholarship matches. The free sites I recommend are Fastweb, Cappex and Zinch. Don’t create a profile on any website that charges you!
Some of the scholarship suggestions you get (about 70%) will be junk, but there should be some good matches in the bunch. I suggest you create a spreadsheet to track the good possibilities and keep yourself organized about deadlines and requirements. The spreadsheet I give students has the following headings:
- Due date
- Scholarship name
- URL of scholarship website
- Type of application (paper or online)
- Essay questions with word limit
- Recommendations required (indicate number)
- Transcript required (yes or no)
- Resume required (yes or no)
- Additional notes, such as judging criteria
- Date you submitted your application
Parents, if you are eager to help your student with the college process, this is a good place to volunteer to be of assistance. You could sort through the suggested scholarship matches and log those you feel have potential on the spreadsheet.
Students, here is my suggestion for making time to complete scholarship applications. Set aside one Sunday afternoon per month as “Scholarship Sunday”. Complete all the scholarships applications for the next month. This means that in November you work on the scholarships due in December and in January you tackle the February due dates. This system allows you extra time in case you discover that you need to gather an extra document (such as a recommendation or transcript) to finish your application.
Come back next week to my GoLocalPDX column to learn about scholarships specific to the Pacific Northwest.
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