12 Tips for Managing the College Scholarship Application Process
With so many factors to consider when searching and applying for college scholarships, it can be overwhelming, especially while managing school, friends, sports, or a job. For the best tips for navigating the scholarship process, we spoke to Gerrin Harrison (pictured to the left), who has been a high school counselor for eight years and currently works at Hartsville High School, and Melinda Mihlbauer (pictured to the right), the founder of PACE Scholarship Academy and the counselor at Woodland High School since 2011.
Here are their tips to help you search and apply for college scholarships:
- Start early. Don’t let senioritis take over and opportunities pass you by. The earlier you start, the better off you’ll be to find scholarships you are qualified for. Some applications have no age limit so you can apply to them in your freshman year, middle school, or even grade school.
- Don’t get discouraged. This is a journey, and everything won’t happen overnight. Stay the course and keep it up. Your hard work will pay off.
- Talk to your school counselor. Your school counselor has a wealth of knowledge about available options and resources to help you find scholarships you qualify for.
- Take advantage of every opportunity. Some schools host workshops, financial aid nights, or scholarship fairs. Use these resources as an opportunity to learn and gather information about opportunities available to you.
- Use social media. Many organizations use social media to announce their scholarships. They’re out there; all you have to do is look.
- Look for local scholarships. $500 and $1,000 scholarships can make a difference. Fewer people will be vying for these scholarships than bigger, national scholarships, so your chances of getting the scholarship could be greater.
- Be a well-rounded applicant. Students involved in clubs, leadership positions, jobs, volunteer work, internships, or sports are excellent scholarship candidates even if they are not at the top of their class.
- Stay organized. Use notebooks, binders, or spreadsheets to help keep track of application requirements and deadlines. There are many moving parts, so work with your organization style to keep on track.
- Keep documents handy. Save all your transcripts, test scores, recommendation letters, and FAFSA documents to your desktop and have a copy printed. You’ll need to reference all these regularly, so having them easily accessible will save you time.
- Read instructions. Ensure you qualify, meet deadlines, write the correct essay topic, and the application is delivered or postmarked on the right date for each scholarship.
- Get help. Reach out to teachers or retired educators for tutoring or proofreading to help improve your test scores and application essays.
- It’s never too late. Sure, it’s best to start early, but scholarship opportunities are available in college and even graduate school. Keep an eye out for opportunities you qualify for – full rides are available at every level; you just have to find them.