Five Scholarship Application Tips to Get and Keep Yourself on Track

“Have you applied for any scholarships this week?” – Me, to my student

“Sad emoji face.” – My student

This conversation happens in houses and on phones all across the country on a daily basis. Students are swamped with classes and homework and no, they didn’t send in that scholarship application yet, Mom, please stop hounding me! But parents are worried about the affordability of college and there’s article after article talking about the millions of dollars in scholarship funds that go unawarded. So how can students get themselves together enough to get those applications out? Here’s five scholarship application tips that can help simplify what seems like a daunting process to start.

five scholarship application tips
Look, an old-fashioned paper application.

Dedicated Scholarship Application Email Address

Yeah, I know. I’m asking you to create another email just for scholarships. But just like you had a dedicated email you used for college applications, this one will be just for scholarship correspondence. Consider it a “work” email. You don’t balk at having a new job-related email, right? From this point forward, consider applying for scholarships a part-time job, and you need a “work” email.

Set Aside A Quiet Specific Time

If applying for scholarships is a job, you need a set schedule. We know carving out time can be painful, and it’s probably the hardest things to make yourself do.

Are you a morning person? Get up an hour earlier and drag your laptop into bed. A night owl? Tear yourself away from studies (or Netflix) to review links. 60 minutes, 4-5 times a week, is all I’m saying. Not all at once on a Sunday (because you and I know that’s just not going to happen). Just think how much can you “make” if you dedicate five full hours a week to scholarship hunting and applying. What could your hourly rate be? If you win a $1,000 scholarship, that’s $1,000 per hour pay.

Not too shabby.

RELATED: Meet Danielle Jeffers of Dough4Degrees

Multi-Purpose Your Writing and Start Journaling

If you’ve ever applied for any scholarship, you know that most require an essay, and not even a particularly long one. You also know most of the assigned essays usually center around the aspirational… what do you want to do with your degree? How do you want to save the planet? What’s your favorite kind of soda? And so on.

Start putting these kinds of essays together. You can easily throw together 300 words on what your major means to you. That way, when you come across an application requiring this kind of essay, you already have a head start on it.

Keep anything and everything you write for applied scholarships too. There’s absolutely no harm in re-purposing your work for other needs.

Organization Isn’t Painful

Have you heard of… Google Docs? If you’ve got a dedicated email, you have some kind of associated digital file system. Anything and everything related to your scholarship hunt needs to be put in there. Your aforementioned essays and journals, links to favorite sites, a list of scholarships you’ve already applied for, letters of recommendations and contacts for such things, etc.? Throw them in documents and folders.

RELATED: Teenagers don’t use email — colleges do. That’s a problem.

Parents, if your student is agreeable to it, ask for access to these files. If you find a scholarship worthy of their attention, add it to the list. That way you can stop texting or emailing every link you find.

Sometimes, Books Are Best

There are wonderful scholarship resources online… hundreds of them (including our newly launched Scholarships page)! And we highly suggest you visit the best of them, like Scholarships.com, FastWeb, Chegg, and Niche. But sometimes, books make this process easier.

One book we love is, funnily enough, called The Ultimate Scholarship Guide. What a perfect title, right? It’s released yearly, and you can start at the beginning, and work your way through it. Mark each listed scholarship off as you review them. (We’re also just protecting you from blue screen light, right?)

Listen: No $100,000 scholarship is just going to drop in your lap. If you thought one of these five scholarship application tips was looking and applying to that scholarship, sorry! But with some simple streamlining, you can easily get at least 2-3 applications out each week! Again, think of that hourly rate and pay yourself with the time!


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