The lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. Kids are out of school. Families take vacations. The last thing anyone wants to think about is searching for college scholarships.
But wait! Summer is prime time to search and apply for scholarships. While everyone is playing, your high school student can be hard at work figuring out how to win a scholarship for college. This makes for a productive and financially beneficial summer. Sacrificing a few hours a week could mean graduating college without debt.
Here are eight summer scholarship search tips to help your high school student on the path to college admission (and it’s not just for upcoming seniors):
1. Set up an exclusive scholarship email.
Once students start researching and applying, they are going to be bombarded with emails. By setting up a separate email account, your student can know that all the emails are scholarship related and can act accordingly. Set up folders to help stay organized with deadlines, applications, and follow-up emails.
2. Sign up on some search engines that match you to scholarships.
Students can maximize search time by letting scholarship search engines match them with scholarships. Complete the questionnaires and you’re on your way to locating all kinds of scholarships. Search engines will notify you of potential matches. Read the application rules and guidelines carefully before applying. You might also want to check out Raiseme.com, which connects student with microscholarships from colleges.
3. Devote some time each day to checking your email for scholarship matches.
Once students register on the search sites, they are going to get daily emails. They must open and read them. It does no good to let them pile up in the inbox. If they do, they will miss application deadlines and get so far behind it becomes overwhelming.
4. Devote some time each day to searching.
Decide how much time to devote each week to searching. If your high school student gets overwhelmed, start with 20 minutes a day. And don’t just look online. Research local organizations, look at scholarship books for free at the library, and ask the reference librarian about local organizations with scholarship opportunities.
5. Use your social media to search for scholarships.
Follow scholarship social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. These accounts post multiple scholarship opportunities daily. You don’t have to spend hours searching; just follow the accounts and they will send you to the scholarships.
6. Read the entries of past winners.
There’s no better way to get inside the minds of the scholarship judges than by reading the entries of the past winners. Their essays will help determine what the judge is looking for and what made the winner stand out.
7. Apply for at least one scholarship a day, more if possible.
After the searching, comes the application. Some scholarship applications will be simple, others will require an essay and recommendation letter. Make sure your student reads the rules and guidelines carefully before submitting the application. Students can set themselves apart with a killer application packet.
8. Participate with your student in the search.
Everyone has a few minutes a day to search for scholarships. Download some scholarship apps (FastWeb, MyScholly) and search while waiting in line, watching television, or any time you have a few spare minutes. Once you find them, text or email your student.
With a little effort, a ton of organization, and some stellar detective skills, those scholarship awards should start rolling in. If you think it’s not worth the hassle, think again. Just two hours of scholarship searching and applying might result in a $1,000 scholarship. That’s $500 an hour which certainly isn’t a waste of time. The first win is always the most exciting!