Balancing School and Your Scholarship Search
Find out how you can balance school with finding the perfect scholarships.
By Kathryn Knight Randolph
It’s obvious to any student in the 21st century that school demands a lot. On top of the eight or so hours a day of class time, students are pushed to engage in extracurricular activities, encouraged to volunteer on the weekends and required to complete anywhere from three to five hours of homework each night. And did we mention that students are also supposed to get at least eight hours of sleep each night?
The junior and senior years of high school drop yet another serving on the plate: college admissions. Between classes, activities and everything else in between, students have to start making college visits, completing applications and collecting A+ essays and five-star recommendations from teachers.
It’s easy to see why students put the scholarship search last, oftentimes waiting until the second semester of their senior year in high school to start. Well, as they say, “the early bird gets the worm.” And early birds should not wait until the last minute to apply for scholarships.
So how does a 21st century student balance it all?
Starting the Search
On Fastweb, the search is simple. You fill out your profile and keep updating it as you join more activities or develop other interests. This ensures that your scholarship matches are always tailored to what you do, what you love and the person you hope to be in college.
Spend a half hour one weekday evening at the beginning of every month reading through all of the scholarship matches on your list. Are there any that you really want to apply for? Ideally, you would apply for all of them because the more scholarships you apply for, the better your chances.
However, if there are only a few that particular evening that you want to apply for, add it to your list of “Favorites” on Fastweb.
Depending on Organizational Skills
By now, it’s been drilled into you that success stems from organization, and in the scholarship search, it’s no different. Once you have your list of “Favorites,” visit each scholarship’s website and mark all of the deadlines in your school planner or calendar. From there, back track through the month and mark the significant dates for that particular scholarship application.
For instance, if the scholarship is due on September 30, make a note in you school planner or calendar to have a first draft of the scholarship application essay completed and reviewed by a parent or teacher on September 9. Make edits by September 16 and complete the form for the application by September 23. That way, the scholarship application isn’t rushed through at the last minute and it’s turned in ahead of the deadline.
Also, buy a bunch of file folders and write the name of each scholarship you apply to on a file folder. Keep all of the contents regarding that application (a copy of the required materials, the application form and your essay edits) in its own folder. This prevents it from getting mixed up with another.
Finally, mark each folder somehow with a check mark or a star that indicates you have applied for that scholarship.
Keeping Your Commitment
There is no better time to renew your commitment to your scholarship search than at the start of the school year. And depending on the type of person you are, your commitment times will vary.
Maybe you’re the type of person that wants to spread the work out a little. If that’s the case, devote a half hour to an hour every single week to your scholarship search and applications. Ideally, you’ll want to pick the day of the week that you have less going on after school. Avoid the night before a big exam or an essay or project is due.
If devoting an hour a week isn’t enough or just impossible given everything else you have on your plate, pick a Saturday or Sunday afternoon each month to devote entirely to your scholarship applications. Drive or have Mom and Dad drop you off at the local library – someplace different than where you typically study. Something as simple as a different environment can help you stay focused for the three or four hours you need to finish applications.
Ready to get started? Check out your scholarship matches now.
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Every semester, Fastweb helps thousands of students pay for school by matching them to scholarships, grants and awards for which they actually qualify. Sign up today to get started. You'll find scholarships like the $2,000 "No Essay" Scholarship from Niche, a scholarship open to all U.S. students and those planning on enrolling within 12 months, and high value scholarships like Opinion Outpost $10,000 Quarterly Prize.