I’m not going to lie to you—scholarship applications are HARD to complete! I still have painful memories of the first one that I ever filled out and sent off. It took me almost a MONTH to collect every bit of information that the scholarship committee wanted me to provide and compile and present it in the order they required for submission.
Lucky for you, I have some good news! As I became an expert at filling out applications, I devised a system that allowed me to submit as many as four to five in a single day! Gradually, and without really knowing it was happening, I created an assembly line for applying for scholarships. I realized that the more scholarships I pursued, the more likely the phone would be to ring with good news, but who wants to spend all of their free time filling out paperwork? For the sake of your sanity, it’s almost essential to figure out the most efficient way of getting the job done. And the sooner the better! Therefore, I will share my own personal Scholarship Express Package (SEP) secrets, so that you can skip the learning process I went through and immediately become an application-pumping machine!
It all began with a binder… As I started to collect scholarship applications, I knew right away that I would need some sort of system to keep myself organized and on top of the game. Without fully understanding how useful it would eventually become for housing my SEP materials, I designated a huge, three-ring binder as the official storage unit for all of my scholarship paperwork.
My binder served a dual purpose of both function and inspiration. There was a clear holder in the very front that I began referring to as my “Dream Pocket.” In it, I placed a colorful brochure from the University of North Florida. I had already received a rejection letter from my top choice, the University of Central Florida, so admission to UNF had become my new aspiration. After all, higher is better, right? Why stay central when I could shoot for the very top of my state! Every time I opened my binder, I saw the UNF brochure and it reminded me of my goal to do whatever it took to get accepted and to find the money I would need to attend.
My magic binder was my best friend, and I honestly believe that this folder is the top thing that helped me earn so much college scholarship money, but I soon discovered that absolute success would require more than merely keeping everything I needed con ned to one place. That’s when I began creating my spreadsheets.
I had a spreadsheet for everything! There was the one that I used to record my high school course list, both past and present; there was the one where I kept a tally of my community service hours; but the most important one was the spreadsheet that I used to organize information about my scholarship applications.
Whenever I picked up an application for a new competition, the first thing I did was whip out my scholarship deadline spreadsheet and start filling in the blanks. First, of course, I would write the name of the scholarship, the award amount, and the date that the application was due. Next, I checked off if I qualified to apply, or if I could qualify at some point before the deadline. Finally, I looked the application over and made reminder notes about anything additional I would need to collect, update, or adapt for the particular scholarship.
Using my awesome SEP, I was able to make Wednesdays my official Scholarship Assembly Day. I would visit my school’s career center to hunt for any new scholarship opportunities, take home the applications, compile a packet of the required insertions, stuff it all (neatly) into a manila envelope, slap on a few stamps, and have the whole thing ready to mail out the next morning. With this tedious task behind me, I could relax for the rest of the week and focus on accomplishing even more great things to add to my resume of achievements!
Invest some effort into getting yourself organized right in the beginning, and you will find that you save tons of valuable time in the long run! And though those deadlines might seem a long way away right now, it’s never too early to get organized — if you start right, you will save eons of time in the long run. Check back soon for more tips on what YOU should put in your SEP.