There are thousands, if not millions, of scholarships out there just waiting to be claimed. With a number like that, it’s easy to think of the process as overwhelming and time-consuming. And you would be right.
But, there are some ways to make the process a little easier and get yourself organized to apply and get free money for school.
We’ve already given you the tools you need to research scholarships in previous Scholarship Zone posts. Use those sites and profiles to begin looking for scholarships that match your qualifications.
As you’re looking at scholarships, make sure you meet all the qualifications and requirements. Don’t waste your time applying for scholarships you’re unlikely to get when you could be focusing on ones that match your background.
Keep a document of all the scholarships you want to apply to. Having everything in one place will help you stay on track when it comes time to organize your application process. Once you have that, you can start getting organized.
Organization is Key
Staying organized will help you stay on track during your scholarship hunt.
With scholarships at the ready, organize a list of all the scholarships you want to apply to. You can do this in a Google Spreadsheet, a word doc, or any other organizational tool that can help you keep track.
Make sure you keep track of the scholarship deadlines, as we mentioned in our last post. This will help keep you on track as you jump into applying for them.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Make a list so you know what you have already applied for including the name and amount of the scholarship as well as the date you submitted it
- Create a few different essay templates so you only have to make a few minor edits, which will speed up the process
- Have your letters of recommendation ready to go by reaching out to teachers or community members you trust to give write you a great letter
- Set aside time each week to work on and submit your applications.
- Request any academic transcripts or proof of participation that you might need in advance
Now that you have your documents organized, you can start creating your timeline.
Create a timeline
Now that you’re organized, make a timeline for yourself. Prioritize the applications with the nearest due date, and submit a realistic number of applications per week. This will keep you from getting overwhelmed.
To stay on track, use your favorite calendar app or keep track of submissions in your document. Whether it’s checking tasks off a to-do list or setting reminders in your calendar, do what makes you feel most accomplished so you’re inspired to stick to your timeline.
Apply for everything you can
Scholarships come in all kinds of amounts, from full rides to small sums. Don’t let the amount the scholarship is worth stop you from applying.
Vary the scholarships you’re applying for. Include large and small amounts and everything in between. As we’ve said a ton throughout our Scholarship Zone series, there’s no amount too small when it comes to a scholarship. And sometimes, the smaller amounts actually end up being the easy wins.
In addition to these smaller amounts, look for scholarships offline that might not be as searchable. Contributions from small businesses, libraries, churches, or community boards can be really simply applications that not many students know about. Again, an easy win.
College is expensive. Even the smallest scholarship amount is one less dollar you might have to take out in student loans.
Claim your money
There’s no time like the present, so go out there and start your financial aid journey. Leave no stone unturned in your quest for cash.
The money is out there, and with a little hard work, you can claim some of it for yourself.
Scholarships are a simple process, but it takes time. Keep yourself on track and you’re bound to find a few extra dollars in your pocket come college time.