How To Apply For Scholarship – Applying for scholarships has to do with different strenuous processes but with the right guidance, you can apply for scholarship successfully.
The price tag of a college education is scary. Between tuition, housing, meal plans, parking passes, textbooks, and more. It feels like the bills never end. For most students, trying to avoid and/or overcome this mountain of student debt is well like trying to climb a mountain.
Luckily, there are plenty of scholarships out there to help students fund their education, but figuring out how to apply to scholarships the right way? Well, that’s the tricky part.
When applying to scholarships, you are competing against other students for funding. You need to present your best self as someone who is not only going to make a difference in the world but as someone who already is. You need to show the scholarship.
This post is going to break step-by-step on how to get organized and submit more high-quality applications in less chance of receiving college scholarships.
Step One: Create a Scholarship Binder.
When it comes to applying to a large number of scholarships quickly and efficiently, the organization is your best friend.
By creating a scholarship binder, you not only keep your scholarship applications in one place, but also your scholarship applications portfolio, submission materials, deadlines, notes, and so much more.
Your scholarship binder also gives you the ability to see everything that you need to do, the materials you have and/ or need to collect, etc. In addition to creating a scholarship binder and using the printables to keep track of scholarship due dates, I also recommend writing the due agenda and phone calendar.
Step Two: Apply for a Scholarship with a Scholarship Application Portfolio.
Your scholarship application portfolio is a major piece of your scholarship binder. Although it’s the most time-consuming to create, it saves you time as you apply for scholarships. Having a pre-made scholarship application portfolio makes applying to some scholarships as easy as copy and paste.
Essentially, a scholarship application portfolio is created because many applications will ask for the same list of your community service hours, leadership positions, and extracurricular activities.
By having a pre-made portfolio, students can easily reference it each time they fill out an application, rather than trying to recall each item individually. Students can also copy and paste the information from each activity into the application, speeding up the application process.
Step Three: Collect Additional Materials.
In your scholarship binder, you should always keep extra copies of common scholarship materials on hand. Some of these materials include:
- Recommendation letters
- Cover letters
- Proof of enrollment
- College acceptance letter (for high school seniors)
These are the common materials required by scholarship applications. Keeping extra copies of each on hand prevents a last-minute rush to collect the materials or inability to obtain having extra material at hand also prevents students from procrastinating and then trying to collect this material last minute, only to realize that it takes a few days to process an official transcript, that their professor doesn’t have time to write them a recommendation letter or a snow day prevents them from collecting the materials.
Step Four: Find Scholarships to Apply to.
There are multiple scholarship engines and apps you can use to find scholarships. I recommend only using 2 or 3 so that you don’t overwhelm yourself, but also so that you diversify your scholarship search (as some scholarships may be listed on one website and not another).
I also recommend checking to see if your school has any applications available for local scholarships, as many community businesses/organizations will send their applications to nearby schools.
For higher schoolers, the majority of these local scholarships are only for graduating seniors. However, if you’re an underclassman go ahead and take a look at what the applications require and what the essay prompts are often the same each year.
Step Five: Organize Your Scholarship Applications.
Like we said before, the key to applying to as many scholarships as possible is to stay organized. Find an organization method that works for you and stick to it. I prefer to use binders, but some people like to use accordion folders, notebooks, etc. I also recommend organizing them on a flash drive. She is a step by step on how to do it:
- Create a new folder and label it “scholarships”
- Create 12 folders within the “scholarships” folder
- Name each folder with the months and year; Ex. January 2020, February 2020, March 2020, etc.
After setting up your folders, create a Microsoft word document for each scholarship and save the file into the month the application is due. For example, if you are working on a scholarship in January 2020 but it is not due until March 2020 folder.
In each word document (there should be one per scholarship), copy and paste the scholarship name, web address, requirements, and essay prompt (if any), and then save the document with a name that goes like this: month day-scholarship name” with the “month” and “day” referring to the due date.
Step Six: Write Your Scholarship Essays.
The great part about all the work you’ve done in steps 1-5 is that once you get to this step, writing your essays is the only work you have to do in each application.
After all, your basic information (name, contact information, etc) doesn’t take but a minute to do in each application and your extracurricular activities and honors will be copied and pasted from your scholarship application portfolio each time. By the point you have all of that prepared, your essays will be the only actual work you have to do.
Step Seven: Collect Postal Mail Materials.
Once you have your essays written, the application filled out, and the additional materials collected. It’s finally time to submit your application.
When applying for a scholarship that needs to be sent through postal mail, it is important to make sure that you don’t get the “postmark” date and the “received by” date mixed up.
Send in your application using a large manila envelope. This not only looks more professional, but it will also arrive with (hopefully) no creases. I also highly recommend taking the envelope to the post office and finding out how much postage you need, rather than guessing and sending it from your home’s mailbox.
Step Eight: Document Your Scholarship.
Applying to scholarships doesn’t just end when you submit your application. After each scholarship that I apply to, I write down the essential information on my “Applied Scholarships” printable, which you can access in my post on how to organize your scholarship binder.
This printable will keep track of what scholarships you have applied to, the sponsor the deadline, the announcement date, and whether you won or lost. By having this printable, you will also know when to keep an eye on your inbox/mailbox and sponsor’s website/social media pages for updates.
Final Tips on How to Apply for Scholarships.
However, my piece of advice is to never feel discouraged and never give up, even if you don’t win a scholarship on your first review tries.
You should also never focus on how many scholarships you didn’t receive, after all, you never hear any scholarship recipients discuss many they lost before they finally won, right?
Most likely, you’re going to lose more scholarship competitions than you’re going to win, but that doesn’t matter. As long as you keep trying, your effort is going to pay off and you can conquer that mountain of student debt before it even begins to build up.
How Do I Get My Scholarship Money?
It depends on the scholarship, the money might go directly to your college, where it will be applied to any tuition, fees, or other amounts you owe. And then, any leftover funds are given to you. Or maybe sent directly to you as a check.
When Should I Apply For a Scholarship?
That depends on each scholarship deadline. Some deadlines are as early as a year before college starts, so if you are in high school now, you should be researching and applying for scholarships during the summer between your junior and senior years.
How Does a Scholarship Affect My Other Student Aid?
It will affect your student aid because all your student aid added together can’t be more than your cost of attendance at your college or career school. So, you’ll need to let your school know if you have been awarded a scholarship so that the financial aid office can subtract that amount from your cost of attendance from certain aids such as loans.
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