The Early Bird Catches the College Scholarship

If you are like most people–including me–you’ve probably waited until your senior year of high school to start seriously considering applying for college scholarships. If you’re not yet a senior, but you are reading this blog: CONGRATULATIONS! Give yourself a pat on the back for being proactive!

If you’re a freshman, then luck you! The four years stretching endlessly between NOW and your eventual college career may seem like forever, but you‘ll be surprised at how fast time flies. Before you know it, some university will be thrusting out its greedy palm and demanding that you hand over a hefty stack of tuition money. What some people don’t realize is that you don’t need to wait until your senior year to start earning that cash. Your scholarship options will be more limited if you are a high school freshman, but such opportunities are certainly far from non-existent. Even a kindergarten student can win college money these days, so if you have your little brother’s best interests in mind, you will yank the crayon out of his nose and send him to the kitchen to concoct an entry to the Jif® Most Creative Peanut Butter Sandwich Contest.

Those of you who know all along that you will need scholarship money can begin preparing in advance to place yourselves at an incredible advantage over your future competitors. For one thing, by thinking ahead you might see the value in working your way up the ranks from C-student to a senior with a solid B-average…but extra studying may not be the best use of your time. You’ve probably already accepted that you are in no mental condition to compete with the academic overachievers, so your most successful strategy may be to concentrate on having fun during your high school years. Yes, you heard me correctly: HAVE FUN!

Okay, not too much fun. Before I start getting angry e-mails from parents, let me stress that I am only condoning the type of “fun” that comes from participating in wholesome extracurricular activities and performing community service work that you enjoy. When you are not entering the scholarship game equipped with awesome grades, you will need to fall back on other just-as-important attributes, such as a life full of experiences and insights. While it is important to remain true to yourself and engage in only those ventures that fill you with a sense of passion, there’s no reason why you can’t explore a few non-scholastic activities that are fun AND will look good on your college scholarship applications.

Remember: the earlier you start thinking about what your college scholarship applications will look like, even when you’re deciding what to do with your ‘free time’, the better your chances will be when the time finally comes. So get out there and HAVE SOME (wholesome) FUN!

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