Deadlines and due dates are sources of stress for almost everyone on the planet, and this stress is only made worse when there’s money on the line. You’re busy enough during the school year, and successfully applying for scholarships and meeting scholarship application deadlines can seem an impossible task. However, with the right strategy, you can stay on track and easily meet scholarship application deadlines.
Search for available scholarships around the beginning of your senior year of high school, if not sooner. If you’re already in college and looking for scholarships for the next academic year, you will still want to kick things off in the early fall. Most scholarship application deadlines fall between October and March, a time when students tend to have the most on their plates academically. New scholarship information might not be posted for every award when you search, but you will get a good idea of which scholarship opportunities you will want to pursue, as well as when their application deadlines are. Even if this year’s contest information is not yet available, scholarship application deadlines tend to fall around the same time each year and the application requirements also tend to be similar from year-to-year. For example, a scholarship essay contest might change prompts from year to year, but the scholarship provider is unlikely to significantly alter requirements for word counts or supporting materials.
Figure out which scholarship awards you plan to apply for and around when the contests close. Check those deadlines against other deadlines you need to meet (tests, major assignments, academic or athletic competitions, etc.) then form a plan for how to get everything done. If you realize that you have three final tests the same week that all of your scholarship applications are due then you know that you’ll need to be writing scholarship essays well in advance of the deadlines.
Once you have a plan, you’ll know which scholarship applications you need to work on at which points in the year, and you’ll also have time to gather supporting materials. Do you need three letters of recommendation by December 1? Will you need to submit 8 copies of your high school transcripts at various points in February? Does a scholarship you’re applying for in March require a copy of your great-grandpa’s discharge papers from World War I? The sooner you know these things, the sooner you can find them. Helping your mom figure out where great-grandpa’s war memorabilia could actually be fun if you don’t have to get it to the copy shop and the post office before 5 PM that day.
Perhaps the best advice for meeting scholarship application deadlines is to be honest with yourself about what you’re likely to finish and how long it’s likely to take you. If you know that you’re not going to be able to write a scholarship-worthy essay in less than a day, then you know to either give yourself more time to prepare a particular scholarship application or to cross that essay scholarship off your list of potential sources of scholarship money. The key to effectively meeting scholarship application deadlines and winning scholarships is to effectively prioritize your scholarship opportunities and application efforts. Don’t strain yourself, don’t procrastinate, and don’t force yourself into a situation where you must submit sub par work. Give yourself time, get organized, and prepare as much as possible beforehand, and you will be on your way to creating success in your scholarship search.
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