4 Steps to Designing a Path to Scholarship Success

Starting your scholarship search doesn't have to be intimidating. You can start applying to scholarships with ease by following these four easy steps.

With the extra time students have to really dig into the scholarship search, there’s tremendous opportunity to reduce your future college costs. Design a routine that can serve you both now and after the coronavirus pandemic has passed with these simple steps!

As a scholarship expert, I’m often asked, “Do I have to treat my scholarship search like a part-time job?’ The answer is no. If you’re smart about how you use your time, you can expedite scholarship applications quickly.

We’re all busy people with full daily routines; you may be actively balancing academic assignments, extracurricular interests, a job, and/or family responsibilities, so adding another responsibility to your to-do list might sound difficult. But you have the opportunity to design a plan that works for you so that starting and continuing your scholarship mission doesn’t need to be a burden on your calendar. It can easily be woven into your weekly schedule in small increments of time with these four steps.

Step 1: Use your “ready-to-go material”

Dig out your old papers, projects, essays, and poems that you‘ve completed for past homework assignments. I call this “ready-to-go material.” So many students believe the scholarship myth that everything they apply to must relate to their future career. That’s false. You can win a scholarship related to poetry and use it toward your engineering degree. Your “ready-to-go material” could be a goldmine for you because your time has already been spent completing it and new material doesn’t need to be created. 

Step 2: Design your weekly scholarship plan

What’s an amount of time you can dedicate to the scholarship search each week? Look at your weekly schedule and start with spending 30 minutes three times a week to search and apply for scholarships. If you set an amount of time that easily fits into your schedule, you’re more likely to do it again the following week. New routines always start with small actions we can easily repeat. Focus on applying to one scholarship each week using “ready-to-go” materials and one additional scholarship that requires a bit more effort. By committing to expediting two scholarships weekly, you can apply to over 100 scholarships a year.

Related: Scholarship Search Spreadsheet Template

Step 3: Get help from your home team

There are many ways your parents can help you with your scholarship search. Parents can assist with contacting relatives to find out if there are scholarships available from your family members’ companies, unions, clubs, or organizations. They can also help you research what local scholarships are given out in your town or county and find out who the decision makers are for them.

Although parents might want to help by completing applications or drafting essays, it’s essential to remember that those are your tasks to complete. This is your money mission, and it’s important you take ownership of it.  

Step 4: Look to the future

Finally, gather criteria information about scholarships that pertain to students a year or two older than you. There are plenty of scholarships out there that are available for current college students only. Knowing the criteria in advance can help you make informed choices about how you use your time outside the classroom to qualify for the most opportunities in the near future. 

Related: The Ultimate List of Easy Scholarships

There’s always an opportunity to win more money for school; you just have to do your research and apply for scholarships in which you best fit the criteria. The scholarship search doesn’t have to be a daunting and all-encompassing job. Delegate tasks to yourself in manageable increments so you can take advantage of designing your path to scholarship success. 

You can start looking for free money for college right now using our Scholarship Search tool!

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About Jean O'Toole

Jean O’Toole is an educational consultant and author of the bestselling book Scholarship Strategies: Finding and Winning the Money You Need. Over the past 15 years, she has helped tens of thousands of students in the United States. Individuals collectively have been awarded millions of dollars by applying Jean’s scholarship strategies. In 2008, Jean co-founded Connections101, a company specializing in providing motivational tools for scholarship searching. It is her goal to empower students to design their paths to their future without college debt. Visit Connections101.com for more information, and follow Jean on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

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Aaliyah

Aaliyah

High School Class of 2022

My mother signed me up for a couple of scholarship contests through CollegeXpress. I was also able to do some research and compare the different schools on my list. I was able to see the graduation rates and different programs that helped me decide on Adelphi University. I will continue looking for some scholarships for my start in September.

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Fernando Ponce

High School Junior

College is a way of life that helps us find out who we are as a person, and CollegeXpress is a great way to stay connected with our future, even for students with little time on their hands due to the challenges of high school we face.

Carlie Cadet

Carlie Cadet

High School Class of 2019

CollegeXpress has helped me learn about an abundance of scholarships available to me and my situation. I was able to do research for colleges in my best interest with your website. I've had multiple colleges email me and offer me multiple scholarships and things of that nature because of this website! Thank you so much for uploading scholarships I didn’t even know existed, even if my life took a huge turn and I wasn’t able to go to college straight out of high school. CollegeXpress helped me a lot in high school to be even more motivated to get into my dream college (which I did, by the way). I'm looking forward to using the materials CollegeXpress has kindly provided me for free to look for scholarships to help pay for college.

Abhishek Kumar

Abhishek Kumar

High School Class of 2022

As a high schooler, I know how hard it is to plan for college. You have to consider a lot of factors: SAT/ACT scores, college searches, scholarships, and more. CollegeXpress has been a helpful resource that solves all these problems. One can easily create a free account and search away. They help you search for scholarships and colleges, they have graduate program search, they have lists and rankings, and so much more. CX also has a lot of articles and advice to read—whether it’s financial aid, test prep, campus visits, internships/careers, or anything. Not only that, CX gives out free scholarship money to students who sign up and create a free CX account. I love CX and will continue to use it! Thank you CollegeXpress for making my college journey easier!

Farrah Macci

Farrah Macci

High School Class of 2016

CollegeXpress has helped me in many ways. For one, online searches are more organized and refined by filtering scholarships through by my personal and academic interests. Due to this, it has made searching for colleges and scholarships significantly less stressful. As a student, life can already get stressful pretty quickly. For me, it’s been helpful to utilize CollegeXpress since it keeps all of my searches and likes together, so I don’t have to branch out on multiple websites just to explore scholarship options.

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