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5 Reasons to Start Your Scholarship Search Early

Starting the scholarship search early is your best chance for minimum stress and maximum rewards. Here are five reasons why starting early is a good choice!

It’s easy to let planning for the future fall to the wayside when it still seems so far away. But ensuring the financial stability of your future is important, so it’s never too soon to plan how you’re going to pay for college. Future you will thank you for it when you graduate with less college debt! And you can get ahead of the game and start exploring scholarship options regardless of what high school grade you’re about to enter. Still not convinced? Here are five reasons why you should start your scholarship search earlier than you think.

1. It will help you narrow down your college search

Too many students go into the college search process looking at schools without any attention paid to the difference in prices. While it’s important to pick a school you truly love rather than just settling for the cheapest option, you’ll also need to consider what you can afford. Having conversations with your parents about what they can or can’t contribute to your higher education can be eye-opening; actual college costs can be quite a reality check when it comes to US institutions. 

If you want to attend a more expensive school and know your familial contributions won’t quite add up, knowing what scholarship options are available to you gives perspective about the remaining gap needing to be covered by loans (after all, with loans, the less you borrow, the better). Initially, it may seem like you’ve hit the jackpot after winning one $1,000 scholarship—but when many colleges run over $20,000 a year for tuition and room and board, it suddenly seems less than you initially thought. (That’s why you’ll want to apply to as many scholarships as possible.) When you research your scholarship options and have an idea of what schools you can afford were you to win them, you’ll automatically be able to narrow down your college search to fit within some basic financial parameters.

Related: How to Narrow Down Your College List

2. It will motivate you to work hard in school

Do you ever feel like grades don’t matter much because you’ll get into college anyway? Or like you don’t need to join extracurriculars because you know people who do less and are getting accepted to decent colleges? While that may be true, many scholarships are competitive, and doing your best work or picking up an extra activity during high school might be your ticket to an extra few thousand dollars down the road. If that’s not motivating, I don’t know what is!

While you shouldn’t participate just for the potential money or a résumé boost, the prospect of “getting paid back” for your dedication with scholarships is very appealing. But don’t work yourself to death trying to meet crazy requirements. Just because you don’t meet the requirements for one scholarship doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough or that you won’t be eligible for many others. You won’t be the right candidate for every scholarship out there, but working hard will ensure you aren’t cheating yourself out of something you could have easily attained otherwise.

3. It will give you time to gather materials and maximize your eligibility

As you probably know, every scholarship has different requirements. If you wait until the last minute to begin searching, you may run out of time to ask for the correct number of recommendations or get your transcript sent before the deadline. Additionally, some scholarship applications are due as early as the summer before your senior year, so if you wait until the school year begins, you’ve already missed out on some opportunities! Knowing ahead of time what various scholarships require and when you can apply can help streamline the application process in many ways; for example, you may be able to minimize the number of recommendation letters you have to ask for by using one or two for several applications, or you could save multiple trips to the school office if you know the correct number of transcript copies you’ll need and when you’ll need them.

Related: Your Quick Mid-Year Scholarship Search Checklist

4. It will make your schedule and planning easier

Many students struggle with the scholarship search because it’s hard to find time in their busy schedules to write the required essays and complete the applications, which leaves them with less money for college in the long run. So if you’ve already done extensive research into which scholarships you’re interested in and their application deadlines, you’ll be able to build time into your schedule for filling in applications much more easily than if you were to just fly by the seat of your pants. This will not only reduce your stress since you’ve determined when you need to do what for each scholarship but will also free you up to focus on your studies and other activities.

5. It will reduce your senior year stress

Speaking of stress, if you wait to begin your scholarship search during your senior year, it’s just one more thing that will load you down during what’s supposed to be a fun conclusion to the high school chapter of your life. You don’t want to have to choose between researching scholarships and going to that final football game—trust me, I’ve seen friends miss out on fun senior lasts because they were too busy with college applications, schoolwork, and scholarship applications. If you play your cards right, you can minimize the amount of scholarship work you need to do during senior year down to just submitting applications and attending interviews. More free time? Yes, please.

Related: 12 Quick Ways to Reduce Junior and Senior Year Stress

While most of this advice is geared toward starting well before senior year, it’s truly never too late to begin your scholarship search. Even if you’re a new high school graduate or already have a year or two of college under your belt, you can still apply for and win more money to help you pay for your education. Don’t be afraid to jump in now wherever you are! 

Start your research right here on CollegeXpress using our Scholarship Search tool, which allows you to search by criteria to find awards you’re definitely eligible for!

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About Laura Wallace

Laura Wallace

Laura is a student at Anderson University, where she's pursuing a major in Social Studies Education with a minor in Spanish. Originally from North Carolina, she now calls Savannah, Georgia, home. She loves dark chocolate, stickers, and the color blue. In her free time, she plays the piano, participates in traditional Greek dance, and loves to visit thrift shops! 

 

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Yuhlani Patterson

Yuhlani Patterson

None

CollegeXpress has helped me find so many scholarships that fit me. They match me to colleges I have specific interest in to make searching for colleges way easier and more efficient. CollegeXpress refers me to schools that have my major of interest and backup schools if I want to change my mind. CollegeXpress also gives out their own scholarships, so you have even more of a chance at gaining multiple scholarships. This website has helped me de-stress from the pressure of not being able to afford college, [of finding] what schools are right for me, and how to find easy access to scholarships that most people never knew existed.

Kayla

Kayla

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me organize the schools I wanted to choose from in one place, which then I could easily compare and find the school that was right for me!

Alexandria

Alexandria

High School Class of 2021

For a long time, I've been searching everywhere to find the perfect website I can get scholarships and information from. Needless to say, I could never find the right one. That was, until I found CollegeXpress. Through my journey of finding the right scholarships for me, I was able to find articles about different things. They've all been helpful, especially in times like this! I was even able to connect with some of my favorite colleges! I love CollegeXpress. Thank you!

Tariq Adam Khatib

Tariq Adam Khatib

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped me a lot. I am a Tanzania boy who finished my high school studies in Tanzania. I never knew I could get an opportunity to get a scholarship to study abroad. I am happy that now I know how to find the school to study abroad through CollegeXpress.

Mimi

Mimi

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has provided me with tips that were for college students, but as a high school junior, they were still very useful. Not only that, it also gave me an idea of what to expect when it comes to going to college or already being in college. I want to say thank you to CollegeXpress, and I hope you continue the wonderful tips until I hopefully get into college and throughout my college journey.

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