Scholarship Timeline

Scholarship Timeline for Maximum Scholarship Success

Most high school students and parents believe that the scholarship process begins Senior year. To some degree this is true as a high percentage of scholarships (especially local ones) are specifically for high school students. However, the student must be able to hit the ground running and apply to as many scholarships as possible. In order to do this, Seniors need to have:

  • A list of eligible scholarships organized by deadline date, and
  • All the necessary documents assembled and ready to submit with the application (or what we call a “Scholarship Portfolio“)

Another consideration for Seniors is that their last year in high school is filled with college applications, leaving precious little time to find and apply for scholarships.

We suggest encouraging high school students to follow a timeline that will increase their chance of winning enough scholarships to avoid incurring student debt and reduce their sense of frustration and overwhelm.

Freshman Year

  • Start your scholarship search (for detailed advice, check out How to Find & Win Scholarships).
  • Make a list of scholarships that you qualify for and be sure to include the deadline date.
  • Read about the past winners to see what made them stand out.
  • Begin to engage in community service activities (one long-term engagement is better than several small ones as it shows commitment and dedication).
  • Get a part-time job (it will look good on your scholarship resume and potentially lead to employer-provided scholarships).
  • Begin keeping track of your accomplishments (e.g., honors and awards) and the contact information for people who can verify your achievements and write a letter of recommendation.

Sophomore Year

  • Continue to search and add new scholarships to your list.
  • Review your social media profiles and eliminate anything that is damaging your reputation. You may wish to lock down your existing social media profiles and start new accounts devoted strictly to your scholarship aspirations. Here’s a post I wrote that may help: How to Use Social Media to Win Scholarships!.
  • Continue to engage in community service and work part time.
  • Build your Scholarship Circle (people who can help you find scholarships).
  • Continue to keep track of your accomplishments and contacts.
  • Prepare to take the PSAT in the first semester of your Junior year. (Summer is a great time!)

Junior Year

  • Continue to search and add new scholarships to your list.
  • Continue utilizing the power of social media to project the best you!
  • Continue to engage in community service and work part time. Ask for letters of recommendation.
  • Continue to keep track of your accomplishments and contacts.
  • Reach out to your Scholarship Circle to let everyone know you’ll begin applying for scholarships this year and you need their help.
  • Assemble your Scholarship Portfolio. Ask people you trust to proofread and give you feedback about your essays, personal statement, resume, and other documents.
  • Apply for scholarships where you meet the eligibility requirements.
  • Take the PSAT (also known as the “Scholarship Test”). It’s more than just a practice SAT because the results can lead to a fully funded college degree. Check out this great podcast The Significance of the PSAT on How Much College Costs from Celest Horton.

Senior Year

  • Put all the scholarship deadlines on your calendar so you don’t miss any. If you use Google Calendar, you can set up reminders.
  • Apply, apply, and apply!
  • Continue to utilize social media to locate scholarships, share your quest and awards with your Scholarship Circle, and thank them for their support. Remember, Scholarship Committees are looking at your social media accounts!
  • Update your Scholarship Portfolio as needed (current transcripts and resume).
  • Keep track of the scholarships you’ve applied for. If you need a form, we’ve designed one. Just send us an email and we’ll be happy to share it with you.

Don’t make the mistake of waiting until senior year to start the scholarship process. In order to win the most money, you have to put in the time and effort. Remember that your scholarship efforts are paying you upwards of $66/Hour and saving you from mortgaging your future with student loans repayments.

If you need the extra help of learning how to find and win scholarships or assembling your Scholarship Portfolio, we’re just a click away.