How To Apply For Scholarships Like A Machine
How To Apply For Scholarships Like A Machine
Applying for scholarships can feel like a huge, overwhelming task. You have to fill out a bunch of forms, gather financial documents, take a professional looking bio photo, write letter after letter… It can feel like a full time job in and of itself.
But there is one great thing about applying for scholarships – laying down the groundwork pays dividends to the process. Once you do the initial tasks of gathering everything you need for one application, applying for the next ten scholarships becomes so much easier.
This article is going to show you how to apply for scholarships in a way that is organized, efficient, and maximally productive. With a little legwork you can get the scholarships you need so that you can focus on school rather than finances, and get that degree.
Some scholarship and grant application deadlines are as early as a year before you begin classes. So the best time to start your scholarship search is the summer between your junior and senior year of high school. But if you’re getting started later than that, don’t worry! There will still be plenty of scholarship opportunities available to you. And you can always apply for the scholarships that you missed next year.
The first thing that you’ll need to do is create a Google account if you don’t already have one. This will give you access to Google Sheets and allow you to create email reminders for your application deadlines. These will be essential tools in organizing your search.
Next, create a Google Sheet where you will enter all of the necessary information for your search. Give it a title like “Scholarship Search” or “Scholarship Masterplan.” Then input the following column headers:
Due Date (Month/Date/Year)
Submit By Mail Or Online?
Online Application Link
Submitted Date (Month/Date/Year)
Next Deadline (Month/Date/Year)
As you conduct your scholarship search, enter all of the information for each scholarship into the corresponding columns. Add columns if there are any extra items of information you’ll need to gather for your application.
But remember, before you put a scholarship into your sheet, read the qualifications with care. You don’t want to waste time applying for scholarships that you don’t qualify for.
To get your feet wet, visit our scholarship page and carefully read the qualifications. Then, if you qualify, enter all the information into your sheet that you’ll need to apply for the American Indian Services scholarship.
With all of this information in one place you’ll know exactly what you need to do to apply for each scholarship and when you need to submit.
Start Your Scholarship Search
The first thing you’ll want to do is go to your schools for help. Your high school counselor and/or the financial aid office at your college will be able to help you find scholarships that might be hard to find online because they’re specific to your school or area.
After that, talk to your employer or have your parents talk to their employer about the tuition funding opportunities that they offer. Many major companies offer tuition assistance to their employees and their families.
Next, hit the internet. Start with a search on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Scholarship Search Tool. There are also federal grants and state grants available for low income students. After you’ve exhausted your school and government resources, then you can try sites like scholarships.com. There you can find lists of scholarships that fit your unique qualifications for aid.
Set Up Reminders
Now that you’ve found all of the scholarships you want to apply for, you’ll need to set up due date reminders. You can easily set up email reminders using the Google Sheet that you’ve created so that you never miss a deadline.
First, go to the menu on your Google Sheet and click Add-Ons. In the submenu click Get Add-Ons. Next, search for an Add-On called Add Reminders and install it. Once installed, you’ll see that the Add Reminders menu automatically comes up on the right side of the sheet.
Using Add Reminders, set up reminders that will be sent to you 1 week before each deadline. You can also have the reminders sent to a parent or friend. That way they can help make sure that you’re staying on top of your applications.
Complete your FAFSA
The very first application you should fill out in order to get funding is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It’s a great funding resource and many scholarship opportunities require that you’ve completed one. It also has the added benefit of helping you get all of your financial and identification documents together.
Get Your Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood
To apply for scholarships for Native Americans you will frequently need to provide proof of heritage. Usually you will do this by providing your Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. To do this you will first need to contact your tribe to make sure that you are enrolled, have at least one parent or grandparent who is enrolled, or to get enrolled in your tribe. Once you have your certificate of enrollment, or proof of relationship to an enrolled member, you will need to fill out an application with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. (To provide proof of relationship to an enrolled member you will need your birth certificate if the relation is a parent. If the relation is a grandparent you will need your birth certificate and their death certificate or your parent’s birth certificate.)
Write A Letter Template
Many scholarships require that you submit a letter about yourself. This may seem like a burden to you but it’s very important for the organization giving you funding. It helps them get to know you and your writing abilities, which is a good indicator of whether you’ll be a student worth investing in. Remember that when organizations give you funding, they’re investing in your future. They want to make sure that they’re making a good investment.
But writing a new letter for each scholarship will take a ton of time and energy, right? Actually, it doesn’t have to. You can drastically cut down on the time it will take to write these letters by creating a letter template. Once you’ve created the template all you have to do is add or subtract a bit from the template to create letters that meet the scholarship’s requirements.
Most scholarship letters want to know similar things. Be sure to include answers to the following commonly asked questions in your letter template:
- Who are you? You can answer this by saying where you grew up, what your family/community is like, and/or what your hobbies and interests are.
- What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them? It can be hard to open up to strangers, but keep in mind that no one is expecting you to go in depth into the tough stuff you’ve dealt with. It’s enough to briefly mention what you went through in a sentence or two. The most important part is to talk about how you dealt with those difficulties and how they made you a stronger person.
- What are your hopes and dreams, and how do you plan to achieve them? Let them know what you want your career to be and what inspired you to start down this path. Create a step by step plan for how you’re going to get from where you are today, to where you want to be ten years from now. Include what you want your major and minor to be, whether you want to get a master’s or doctorate, if you want to do internships, where you’d like to work, and what position you’d like to have. The more specific you are the easier it is for the reader to believe in your dream.
- How will you give back to your community? If you are involved in any community activities currently, name your involvement and tell them what exactly it is that you do. Show how you’re making an impact. Also, make a plan of how you will be involved after you graduate. If you want to be a doctor, you could plan to do service at free clinics. If you want to own a business, you could create a business plan that includes charitable contributions. Or you could become a mentor in the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program. Do some brainstorming about how your community needs you and what you’ll do to fill that need. Again, be specific.
- How will this scholarship help you? Let the reader know how the scholarship will help you in meeting your unique needs. I read one thank you letter from a student who said that before he got his scholarship he was making creative plans to afford college. He was looking into sharing a single room with three other guys. And he was also making a grocery budget where he could only afford ramen, and beans and rice. It tugged at my heartstrings. Another letter I read mentioned that she had ridden her bike through rain and snow to get to school every day, and the scholarship helped her afford to buy a used car. These unique details made the letters memorable and made me want to make sure that the student got funding.
- Lastly, thank the reader for considering you. Tell them how much you appreciate the service that they provide. Let them know that they are making a difference for students like you. Mention that they are helping you achieve your dreams and will be instrumental in your success. These scholarship providers will be your partners as you pursue an education and it’s important to recognize them as such.
If you aren’t confident in your writing abilities, go to your school’s writing center and ask for help. If your school doesn’t have a writing center, you can ask a teacher or counselor to help you.
Ordering your high school and college transcripts can be a bit of a pain. You have to fill out a form every time you order one, some offices require that you deliver the form in person rather than online, and it usually requires a fee for each copy sent.
To make the process easier, order the transcripts in bulk. This is where searching for all your scholarships first and organizing their mailing addresses into one place comes in handy. You can order most or all of your transcript copies be sent out in one go. And that will save you a lot of time and effort.
Just be sure to check with your transcript office if you can order transcripts in bulk. And check with the scholarship organization to see whether you can send the transcript in advance of your application.
Don’t Forget To Reapply
Many funding opportunities will provide you with funds throughout your educational career, but they require reapplication. Make sure you’re updating those reapplication deadlines and requirements in your sheet and creating new reminders with the Add Reminder tool.