This is Part Three of the How to Improve Your Chances of Winning a Scholarship series. Here we’ll talk about the importances of organizing your scholarship search while also observing a few ways to go about doing that.
One of the most important things you can do to improve your chances of winning a scholarship is to get organized. You don’t want to be disqualified because you missed a deadline or didn’t send in all the required materials. Of course, these are all basic things, but more than likely you’ll be applying for a ton of scholarships because that’ll increase your chances of winning, yet if it’s done in a disorderly fashion, you only be increasing your chances of making a costly mistake. Organizing your scholarship search will allow you to get more done and limit potential mistakes. It’s no doubt that scholarships can be very competitive. And although being organized is strictly a behind-the-scenes operation, it will prove to be beneficial in the long-run. Below are a few tips that should help get you started.
Create a List
There are many aspects of staying organized that you should keep in mind. One, for instance, is having a list of scholarships that you’re eligible for with a priority on deadlines. As mentioned earlier, applying for many programs as possible is necessary if you really want to win some cash. You’re not going to win every scholarship program you enter, it’ll most likely be a numbers game. Once you’ve acquired that list, you can then begin working on each scholarship ensuring that you have enough time before the entry period ends. Many people apply for scholarships when they find them, but with a list, you’ll be able to set up a regular working schedule which is less frantic, and will give you, as opposed to chance, more control over your scholarship search.
Setup an Easy System
As far as the method you choose to organize your scholarship search is concerned, just be sure that it works for you and is easy to understand. File folders can be handy in keeping track of all the programs you want to apply for. You can assign labels, dates or any identifying information on each folder you feel will help you streamline the process. However, doing it all electronically is clearly the best way. Being in the digital age, organizing by using files in Microsoft Word will save up space and is clearly more convenient. You can even create electronic copies of tangible scholarship applications with a document scanner and save them on your computer. Creating folders and sub-folders on your computer with the scholarship title and including everything that can be saved electronically (essays, pdf files, letters of recommendations via email etc) is a far better way to stay organized than using an old fashioned, albeit cheaper, accordion file folder. And of course, if choosing the electronic method, saving all that information on a flash drive is a great idea if something unfortunate were to happen with your computer (virus, malware, hardware failure).
Letters of Recommendations
You’ll want to acquire a sufficient amount of references and letters of recommendations from people that can vouch for you deserving a scholarship. Every now and then you’ll find a scholarship application asking for this information. Many will only require you list three, but it’s a good idea to have a few more on hand as that will paint a better picture of your character and will give you more of an option to choose from. Also, there are many college and scholarship matchmaking sites that allow you to post any letters of recommendations you’ve received on your profile to help you garner the attention of various institutions and programs. Having more than just a few from variety of extra-curricular activities – community service projects, jobs, sports activities, volunteer work – will certainly help you stand-out moreso than your peers. Ten is a good number to shoot for but there’s really no limit; you’ll want enough from diverse activities you’ve been involved with to give you more of a well-rounded look. Additionally, since scholarship programs can place an emphasis in different areas (technology, sports, art), it’s especially important to have letters of recommendations that specifically cater to these areas. Doing this will certainly help give you a competitive edge over those who just include recommendations that are unrelated to the program.
Hunting for scholarships are a very critical element to the whole college process. Tuition rates and fees are quite steep so doing your best to search for financial aid will allow you to stay above water. Optimizing your search with these tips should increase your chances of winning aid for school. The important thing is that you continue to set goals and constantly achieve them. Keeping a regular schedule and nailing tasks will allow you to do that and will also give you encouragement along the way. Beyond all that, work-ethic and persistence will be what gains you those necessary funds for college. If you decide to start your search for scholarships in an organized manner (even though it’s a wholly behind-the-scenes task), you’ll find that you’ll be more productive and efficient of attaining financial aid for school.