Good question! You should begin by gathering the items you will need to keep your assembly line running smoothly. Let’s start with the basic materials you will need to either purchase or find around the house. Unless you need to mow your neighbor’s lawn to earn the money to buy these things, this list of supplies should be the easiest portion of your SEP to obtain:
- Three-ring binder
- 20 clear sheets
- Folders w/three holes
- Black pens
- Large Manila envelopes (10–20)
- Portable USB flash drive
These next items will also be easy enough to collect. All it takes is a quick trip to your school office, plus a few minutes standing in front of a photocopy machine.
- 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
Creating your SEP is starting to get a little harder, but I know you’re up to the challenge. Now, you will need to prepare a page (with possible updates) on each of the following subjects:
- Scholarship Deadline Sheet
- Curriculum resume
- Job resume
- Activities/clubs resume
- Community service resume
The final items you will need are the toughest by far:
As you already know, almost all scholarship committees will ask you to submit an essay. The questions and topics for each one may vary, but you are counting on at least some of them being generic enough that you won’t have write a fresh essay for each scholarship application. There are several ways to build your personal essay archive, and you will probably use some combination of the three methods that I’ve listed below:
- Prepare yourself in advance by researching the five most common essay questions and composing a brilliant example of each. If luck is on your side, you will encounter numerous opportunities to use and reuse this essay library. It’s a beneficial skill-builder and an incredible time saver if you have started playing the scholarship game early enough to indulge in the luxury of pre-preparation.
- Gather completed essays from your past school career that can be either used directly or adapted to fit within the guidelines of a scholarship application.
- Save copies of your scholarship essays as you write them. Keep the pages handy in your SEP binder, ready and waiting when needed.
- Letters of Recommendation
Like your essay archive, generic recommendation letters can be prepared in advance, but you can also collect them as you go along. Your SEP should contain at least three different letters that can be quickly copied or adapted to fit your needs.
Wow, I can hear you say. Is that all!? I know it can seem like a lot of work, but the earlier you begin to assemble your SEP, the LESS work it will be in the long run. In my next post, I’ll tell you all about how to put all these different ingredients together to make the tastiest SEP anyone has ever seen!