A common excuse students share for not applying for scholarships is that it takes too much time. However, students who have won scholarships will tell you the scholarships have lessened the stress on how they will pay for college. Scholarships can take a lot of time, but there are some time saving things you can do to maximum the number of scholarship applications you send out. Below are my nine tips for saving time when applying for scholarships.
Many high schools and colleges cannot produce official transcripts right away. You will typically have to wait a few days to get an official transcript. And, you might have to wait even longer if the school office is closed for a holiday or the summer! Request a few extra official transcripts now so you will have them on hand whenever you need them for a scholarship. Also, have a copy of the latest transcript available in PDF format so you can submit it online at a moment’s notice.
2. Recycle essays
There is no rule that says you cannot recycle an essay for a scholarship. There are many scholarships that use the same essay questions, such as, “why do you deserve the scholarship?” There is no need to rewrite the entire essay if it asks the same thing. Instead, refer back to your previous essay and cater it to the scholarship provider. In addition, as you are reading scholarship essay questions, ask yourself if you have ever written something similar. Even an essay you may have written for a class could be helpful as you are applying for scholarships. Just remember to always reread the essay and make edits to ensure you are answering the specific question.
Create your activities resume and have it ready for the scholarships that require them. As you continue searching for scholarships, you will find quite a few scholarships that will request a resume or activities list. In addition, it is always helpful to have a resume available as you are filling out an application because it will have all of the specifics the applicant may require.
Writing a recommendation can take teachers and counselors a lot of time. Plus, they have many other students they are helping. Set up a meeting with the individuals who you want to be your recommendation writers and let them know you are applying for scholarships now and in the future. Discuss with the recommendation writer how they would like to be notified about scholarships and what they would need to write recommendations. Most writers will reuse a recommendation and change a few words to cater it to the scholarship. You may also ask for a general recommendation letter that will be available for the last minute scholarships you discover right before the deadline. The recommendation writer is doing you a favor, so make sure you follow their requirements so you can get all of the recommendation letters you need.
5. Work as a team
Parents should never fill out the applications or write essays for the students. However, there are ways parents can help if they have the time to help with scholarships. Parents can search for scholarships that could be a good fit for the student, share the information with the student, and remind them of deadlines.
6. Sign up with scholarship search sites
Some scholarship search sites allow you to input your information (grade level, GPA, major, etc.) and then they will create a list of scholarships for you. These search sites have done the work for you by narrowing down the huge list of scholarships out there and telling you which one you should submit your application. NOTE: No scholarship search site will have all scholarships available. Therefore, sign up with multiple sites because one site may know of a scholarship that others do not.
7. Work smart
Apply for scholarships that have less competition. While there is always competition for scholarships, focus your time and energy on scholarships that have specific requirements that automatically narrows down the applicant pool. Get to know yourself and write down all of the ways you can narrow down the applicant pool. These can include scholarships only open to students of specific majors, religions, disabilities, and other demographics. In addition to my website that has a lot of scholarship lists, try searching phrases such as, “scholarships for ________ majors” or “scholarships for students from _______.”
8. Schedule time every week
When students think about scholarships, they think about all of the time it may take to apply. The amount of time necessary can seem daunting. Instead of working on scholarships whenever you have some free time (which might seem like never), build some time into your schedule every week. Write it down on your calendar or schedule and don’t schedule anything else during this time. Buckle down and work on scholarships during this time.
9. Apply for “easy” scholarships
Your focus should be on the scholarships that have less competition. Scholarships that have more work (essay, recommendation, etc.) or have specific requirements (major, residence, etc.) will have less competition. However, if you have a little extra time, apply to the easy scholarships that only require a short application and take only a few minutes. The likelihood of winning may be small, but if it only takes a minute or two to apply, why not apply?