Ah, senior year. Filling out college apps, working hard on classes, and yep, you guessed it—scholarship time.
There are ways to go about it, though, that make your life easier. Your best bet is to start junior year. OK, scratch that—start sophomore or freshman year. We know, we know, it's early. But think about how thankful you'll be senior year having researched scholarships at the beginning of high school. This allows for ample time to plan your activities, goal GPA, community service, and more in order to qualify for as many scholarships as possible.
That being said, do make sure you're doing things you enjoy or are interested in pursuing. You don't want to torture yourself through high school just to get scholarships later. Starting early just helps you nail down the logistics. Need to have at least two years of private instrument instruction in order to snag a prestigious music scholarship? No problem, you've done that and more. Need to have received a varsity letter in the sport of your choice to win a sorely needed $10,000 toward college? You already worked hard with your eye on the prize.
Some tips on the scholarship process
Stay organized. Keep a chart or Excel sheet of deadlines and requirements. Make sure to note if you can use a certain essay (with slight amendments) for two or more scholarships.
Apply early and often. If you're qualified for a scholarship, apply. Think of it this way—you can make the money up front now, or you can work for it later when it's in the form of a loan with a lot of interest accruing. It's worth the time you could spend now, and your older self with thank you profusely.
Keep applying in college. Just because you've graduated high school doesn't mean you can't keep applying to scholarships made specifically for currently enrolled college students.
Research early. Like we said above, it's best to plan ahead. That way, you don't have to look back with regret on all the things you could have done in high school but didn't.
Check out the following places to find great scholarships:
- Fast Web
- Scholarship Monkey
- Doorway to College's social media
- Your counselor at school
- State grant agency
- Your high school website
- Your parents’ employers
- Your employer