There are many steps in the process of being awarded a scholarship, but students who get started early will have a chance to practice the skills they will need to become successful scholarship applicants. Even if you haven’t even started high school yet, here are some areas that you should be working on RIGHT NOW in order to make sure you’re ready to roll when the time comes to send off your applications.
It’s never too soon to learn how to organize both your time and your school materials. If you intend to apply for multiple scholarships at one time, it is essential that you develop an organized system to keep all of your paperwork in order (check out my series of posts on The Scholarship Express Package). If you begin practicing and perfecting your organizational skills as you begin high school, you may even find that your grades improve, along with your chances of winning a scholarship.
Every scholarship you apply for will begin with an application. The best way to practice for filling out scholarship applications is to complete actual scholarship applications and submit them to the sponsoring organization. If you don’t win, it’s no big problem–you have several more years to keep trying, and the practice alone will do you good.
You can also hone your application skills by collecting and filling them out for job opportunities in your area. If you need a part-time job, you’ll be doing this anyway, but even if you don’t want a job, gathering the necessary information and filling out the job application forms will be useful practice for later.
Going out on job interviews is even more valuable than merely filling out the applications. If you are a finalist for a scholarship award, you will very likely be invited to interview before the judging committee. Any practice you can get conducting yourself maturely and answering difficult questions with poise and dignity will be highly beneficial to you later on.
Obviously, you can’t go to interviews if you do not intend to accept the job, so your realistic experiences may be limited, especially if you are offered the first position that you interview for! To get more practice, you can always stage “fake” interviews and go through the steps of dressing up, submitting your resume, and undergoing interrogation. Of course, this type of role-playing will be more relaxed than the real thing and probably won’t help you learn to cope with butterflies in your tummy. You may even find yourself struggling to hold back your laughter when your best friend or your big brother arrives dressed up in Dad’s over-sized suit and begins asking you serious questions. If you want to practice in a more accurate, yet still pretend setting, talk to your parents about asking their bosses to conduct a simulated interview in their workplace on your behalf.
You heard me, get practicin’! And check back soon for more tips on areas you should be focusing on, and for lots more in-depth advice on applications, interviews, and lots more.