“A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.” -Nelson Mandela

You are a great kid who wants to go to a great school, but we bet you are wondering how to pay for it. Scholarships are undoubtedly one of the best ways to pay for college because they do not have to be paid back. Yet, many students do not look for scholarships outside of what their school shows them, or they are not filling out the applications. Here are a few tips for getting organized during the scholarship process, recycling your work to use for multiple scholarships, and setting yourself up for success.

Diving into the Scholarship Process

1. Keep track of every scholarship that you apply for over the course of the year. You will want to keep tabs on which ones you are considering, have started, and have submitted. Do not leave any scholarships unfinished; you never know which ones you will get!

2. Gather all of the scholarship’s resources prior to starting the application. Be aware of the scholarship’s background. If it is dedicated to a person, for example, you will want to learn a little bit about them so that you can put emphasis on shared interests in your essay. Before you start, make sure you have all of the forms and papers necessary to complete the scholarship.

3. Get letters of recommendations from teachers and community members before you need them. Just a heads up: some scholarships ask for LORs from non-teachers, specifically looking for community members with whom you are close. If you are applying to a very large and prestigious scholarship, ask your recommendation writers to tweak their letters specifically for the scholarship.

4. Identify and “categorize” the scholarships. Keep track of due dates, time until completion, and more. Do whatever keeps them organized in your head!

5. Save every single essay you have ever written and date them. Copy and paste them into new documents and edit them to match other scholarships. Recycle the essays! Many times, there is no need to completely start over when you have written a good essay already. Just make sure to keep each version as every scholarship can be a little different.

6. Target small, local, or branded scholarships. Many small businesses such as banks, clubs, and insurance companies award local students scholarships each year, and many of the scholarships go unused because no one knows they exist. Also, many counties give scholarships to students from each sport, so do some research on yours. You may not be playing in college, but that does not mean it will not make you money for college. Spend a day calling businesses and organizations in your town/area to ask about scholarship opportunities; it cannot hurt!

7. Do not treat any scholarships like a lottery. The recipient will not be chosen from a hat; work hard on each application to make sure you are standing out from the rest of the applicants. You have a fair chance for each scholarship.

8. Remain hopeful and optimistic, rather than entitled or worrisome. Scholarships go to the kids who deserve them based on the work they put into them. If the effort is given to the application, the scholarship will go to the applicant.

9. And one more thing. Get those college applications in soon!! Many schools give the most scholarships to the kids who apply in the first wave of applicants if they have multiple deadlines. Make sure to get your applications in prior to the scholarship deadline!

Seniors, ROCK IT OUT! Good things come to those who wait, but more importantly, good things come to those who put forth effort!

Krystal Scheetz Photography specializes in modern Senior Photography in the Akron/Canton, Ohio area. Make sure to check out our unique senior experience. 

Written by Evelyn Aaron