I’m not going to lie and say that applying for scholarships is easy. It’s not! It requires a lot of time, effort, patience, organization, and due diligence to get through this process, and to achieve what you set out to do in the first place – win money for college. Lucky for you, I devised a system that allowed me to submit as many as four or five applications in a single day! And, now I will share with you how I did this so you can create your own scholarship express packet.
It all began with a binder. I bought a 3-ring binder and designated it as my official storage unit for all of my scholarship paperwork. While this binder was helpful, I realized that I needed something more than just confining everything to one place.
Then came the spreadsheet. I began creating spreadsheets for everything! I used one to record my high school course list (both past and present), another to record all of my community service hours, and finally (and most importantly) I had another spreadsheet that I used to organize information about my scholarship applications.
Once my spreadsheets were created, there was no stopping me! The first thing I did when I picked up a new application was take out my scholarship deadline spreadsheet and start filling in the blanks. First, I wrote down the name of the scholarship, the award amount, and the date the application was due. Then I checked whether I qualified to apply now, or if I could qualify to apply at some point before the deadline had passed. Then the last thing I would do is look over the application and make reminder notes about anything I needed to collect, update or adapt for each individual scholarship.
So, now you’re probably asking, what do I need for my SEP? Here’s what we recommend:
- 1 3-ring binder
- 20 clear sheets
- Folders with 3 holes
- Black pens
- Large manila envelopes (10-20)
- Portable USB flash drive
- 3-5 copies of your official transcript
- Copies of your unofficial transcript
- Copies of your SAT/ACT Scores
- Copies of your Federal Student Aid Report
Now it gets a little bit more challenging. You will need to prepare a ONE TIME (with possible updates) page on each of the following subjects:
- Scholarship Deadline Sheet
- Curriculum resume
- Job resume
- Activities/clubs resume
- Community service resume
And finally, the toughest items you will need to procure by far: your essays and your letters of recommendation. The easiest way to help yourself with this process is to create a library of your essays that might be generic enough that you won’t need to write a fresh essay to apply for each scholarship. You can do this by researching the five most common essay questions and composing brilliant responses to each, gathering completed essays from your school career, and by saving copies of your scholarship essays as you write them. The same kind of thinking applies to the letters of recommendation. Keep it simple! Ask your recommenders to write you fairly generic recommendations (whenever possible) and ask if it’s okay if you re-use it for another scholarship application in the future.