Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity can’t be better described than by a high school career. When you enter high school, graduation and college seems like a lifetime away. But as you prepare to graduate, it seems like you can’t slow down enough and before you know it, college exams, applications, and scholarships are piling up in front of you. But this doesn’t have to be the scariest time of your high school career. In fact, with the right amount of forward thinking, you can be prepared for just about anything.
Scholarships are good news for just about every student. They can help you go to the best schools, get into the best programs, and help you achieve the goals you have set for yourself. But picking the right scholarships, getting through all the essays, and fulfilling all of the requirements can be quite a process. Therefore, you should start thinking about scholarships as early as possible, even as a freshman. Quite honestly, you can’t prepare enough for a scholarship. So make the decision early to perform well in school, become an outstanding student with great relationships with your teachers, rack up plenty of extracurricular activities and volunteer hours, and work on your essay writing and interview skills whenever you can. All of those things will immediately open up many scholarship opportunities for you and will make the entire process easier.
When it comes time to start applying for scholarships, you need to get organized before you do anything else. Get a binder together with all the scholarships you’re interested in applying for. Make a spreadsheet with their due dates, requirements, awards, and any other relevant information. If you’re unsure of where to begin when picking a scholarship, do some research online and talk to your school’s guidance counselor. Scholarships are eager to give their money away to the right student, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding information on them. Once you’re organized, you’ll be ready to tackle the hard parts: the essay and the interview.
Not all scholarships require interviews, but they almost always require an essay, and not just any old essay, but a great essay. Hence, practicing essay writing since freshman year. Your essay will be what speaks for you in front of the scholarship’s panel of judges. They might not know you personally and you might never get to meet them, so the essay is usually all they have to go on to decide what kind of person you are and whether or not you deserve to win their scholarship. Therefore, keep a few of these scholarship essay rules in mind. First, take your time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and your scholarship can’t be written the night before it’s due. Come up with several ideas, write several drafts, and then revise some more. Second, your essay has to be unique and surprising. Of course, read the directions carefully so you don’t miss any major points, but you should always look for a distinct angle to present your essay. Think about what your best qualities are, what strange experiences you’ve had, and what makes you stand out from the crowd. An attention-grabbing essay that includes all of those things is sure to garner some respect.
While you’re taking your time to carefully craft your essay masterpiece, get a few letters of recommendation in the works. These letters will also speak for you and showcase the kind of student and person you are. Picking the teachers you have the best relationships with and the teachers who’ve taught your best classes will ensure your letters are positive and come from the heart. However, keep in mind that writing letters of recommendation can be time consuming and that you won’t be the only student asking for one. Therefore, be polite and thankful when asking a teacher to help you out. It’s in your best interest to make the process as easy as possible for them. Your result will most likely be excellent letters of recommendation that will help you stand out even further.
Finally, you might have an interview to prepare for. And as you’ll learn later in life, all you can really do to prepare for an interview is to practice, look the part, and breathe. Interviews are can be nerve-wracking because you don’t really know what kinds of questions you’ll be asked and you never know what kind of mood your interviewer will be in. But instead of fretting over it, you’ll be better equipped to handle any situation by just practicing a few answers like why you’ve picked that scholarship, what makes you unique, and what are your biggest strengths and weaknesses. You can’t practice for every question, but you can be prepared to speak and speak well. After that, it’s just about looking good and making a great first impression…and remembering to breathe.
While not every student needs a scholarship, the recognition they offer can set your college career off to a brilliant start. Thankfully, applying and getting through the process doesn’t have to be a hectic and rushed mess. By planning ahead and getting organized, as well as remembering to inhale and exhale on a regular basis, you can pass the scholarship process with flying colors. Now, you just have four years of college to worry about!