The start of a new year is also the unofficial halfway point of the academic year. This is the time when more students at every education level begin to focus more on their scholarship pursuits. With more students conducting the scholarship search, competition increases for awards with deadlines in January through June. This is an important time to focus your attention on how to work smarter in your process to expedite scholarship applications more quickly. With the end of the academic year only months away, this is the time to use organizational tools like the scholarship search checklist below.
Scholarship search checklist
- Spend time expanding your potential scholarship search categories by money mapping any large or small categories related to your past accomplishments and future goals. For example, a female student who has the goal of working as an electrical engineer should include Engineering, women in STEM, and STEM keywords in her scholarship search criteria. If she only searches for scholarships focused on electrical engineering, the student will miss potential opportunities. Expand your search and continue to revisit your money-mapped personal search engine list.
- Identify all ready-to-go materials that you can access for scholarship applications. Ready-to-go materials includes all past papers, essays, projects, or poems you’ve done in the past three years. If you’re a graduate student, your ready-to-go material can extend to the past five to 10 years. Not all scholarships you pursue have to directly relate to your future profession. A Finance student can apply for poetry scholarships; a Theatre student can apply for graphic design scholarships; a Pre-med student can apply for history-related scholarships. It’s essential that you compile a list of your ready-to-go materials and identify any themes or subjects connected to them. For example, if you wrote a paper about the Civil War and discussed Abraham Lincoln in it, search for scholarships related to each of them. In fact, there’s a $1,500 scholarship related to Abraham Lincoln. Searching for scholarships related to your ready-to-go materials can help you expedite applications quickly, as you’ve already spent the time and energy in the past creating them.
- Thoroughly research local scholarships. This is by far the most important action to do at the mid-school-year point. Strategically, every scholarship seeker should highly prioritize local scholarships. Awards offered by local companies, organizations, individuals, clubs, and foundations with geographic eligibility restrictions should be researched thoroughly. Learning more about local awards is a smart use of your time, as competition for these awards will be restricted to your high school, college campus, state, city, or even county. Strive to learn more about these awards by reaching out to the scholarship committees to ask what they’re looking for in an ideal candidate. The conversation alone will help increase your visibility to decision makers. It may also provide valuable information on how you can approach your application.
Private scholarships are offered year-round, so it’s never too late to start or amp up your search. Every week of the year brings new scholarship deadlines from scholarship sources. As you look ahead to the second half of the academic year, be sure to check these items off your to-do list, and you’ll be starting the new year as a focused scholarship seeker with a clear mission.
Keep yourself organized in your scholarship search by using our Scholarship Search Spreadsheet Template!