Everyone in high school, especially upperclassmen, knows that filling out scholarship applications can cause a lot of stress. For juniors, there aren’t many scholarships available, but it is a good idea to start compiling a list of all activities you may have participated in and your previous employment history. For seniors, this is the time of year when many scholarship deadlines are quickly approaching. The University of Oregon has a few scholarship application tips to help you make the most of your time and hopefully earn some financial aid for college!
1. Meet all application deadlines!
Use a calendar or planner, make a schedule, and stick to it. If you miss a deadline, even by just one day, you may not be considered.
2. Make a list of all scholarships you want to apply for.
I recommend using Google Sheets or Excel to make a list of all scholarships you plan on applying for and organize them by the date they are due. Then cross out the ones you have applied for and keep making your way down the list!
3. Gather all application materials early.
Give yourself plenty of time to complete each step. Applications that have been rushed look sloppy, and incomplete applications may not be considered at all.
4. Don’t ignore small awards.
Small awards can add up. Even some of the $500 to $1,000 awards can be very beneficial for your time in college. Plus, the larger the award, the more competition you’ll face, so the small awards could be easier to win.
5. Request letters of recommendation early.
Some applications require letters of recommendation. Think carefully about who should write these letters and choose people who can speak to your strengths and ability to overcome your weaknesses (letters from family members are generally a no-no). Give your recommenders no less than two weeks' notice so they have time to write the letter. Be prepared to provide them with additional information about yourself or the scholarship. Make sure to follow up with your recommender to assure that your letter was submitted.
6. Sing your own praises.
Applications will often ask you to talk about what you do with your time. As uncomfortable as this may feel, this is once in your life when it's necessary to brag. Tell them about the recognition and awards you've received. Emphasize activities that show your talents and passions, especially things that demonstrate your ability to lead, take initiative, persist through adversity, and care for your community. Don't underestimate yourself - employment and family responsibilities can say a lot in your favor as well.
7. Try, try again. Keep trying even if you don’t win a scholarship right away. Save copies of every application that you complete so you don’t have to start from scratch every time.