managing college deadlines

Deadlines and Organization Matter When Searching for Scholarships!

Earlier in our scholarship series, we wrote about finding and identifying different types of scholarships. This week, we’ll share tips and tricks for staying organized, a critical part of the process of maximizing your scholarships.

Students should begin researching outside scholarship opportunities well in advance of receiving their admission acceptance letters, as many scholarship programs have early deadlines. In many cases, scholarship deadlines coincide with admissions deadlines, which can make for a very busy fall! Add this work to the work of your senior year, and you’ll recognize immediate incentive to stay on top of things. As with completing applications for admission, the scholarship application process can get quite involved, often requiring an application, personal statement, grade and class rank verification, or letters of support from a counselor or teacher. Keeping on top of deadlines and individual application components will require serious attention to detail and organizational skills.

We recommend that applicants keep a detailed spreadsheet to monitor both due dates and application requirements. This is a vital part of staying organized and tracking every aspect of each scholarship application. The spreadsheet should include:

  • the name of the scholarship opportunity
  • the contact information for the scholarship (including scholarship director’s name, physical address or website address)
  • the eligibility requirements/criteria
  • the type of submission required (online or paper)
  • the individual components of the application, which may include an application form, an essay or personal statement, a transcript, GPA and class rank, standardized test scores, resume, and a letter of recommendation
  • any associated deadlines
  • login information for each scholarship site, if applicable

We also recommend connecting directly with your high school guidance counselor well ahead of application deadlines. In many instances, the student’s high school guidance counselor will have to complete a portion of the scholarship application. Because counselors may require multiple weeks of lead time, it is very important to notify the counselor early of your request.

Finally, and this cannot be stressed enough, do not miss your deadlines! In many cases, scholarship applicants are reviewed by a committee on a set date, and you will have no recourse if your application arrives late and is therefore not considered. As you complete your scholarship applications, update your organizational spreadsheet with the date of submission and any pertinent details.

Although the outside scholarship search process is time consuming, it should not be overlooked. An organized and diligent student can plow through the process and (hopefully!) secure additional funding.

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Written by Jan Combs
Jan Combs is a college finance expert at College Coach. Before joining College Coach, Jan was Director of Financial Aid at Harvard Graduate School of Education and Assistant Director of Financial Aid at Boston University.