January 1 until May 30 is what I like to refer to as “scholarship season.”
Scholarships usually have deadlines around this time because students are starting to think about the logistics of school again (i.e., financial aid applications, college admission applications).
If you’ve always wanted to jump on the scholarship bandwagon, there is no better time than right now! Here are three tips to help you crush it this scholarship season.
1. Dedicate at Least 1 Hour Each Week to Your Scholarship Search
An hour a week is the minimum time that any student serious about winning a scholarship should spend on their search.
New scholarships pop up every day, and old scholarships renew every year. If you just do one scholarship search in January and never check back, there is a good chance that you are missing out on a boatload of new scholarship information being posted.
Spend this hour checking your scholarship search engine results, using Google to search for scholarships, and reviewing your upcoming scholarship deadlines. Setting an alarm on your phone or calendar can help you to remember this time every week.
2. Use More Than One Scholarship Search Engine
At first glance, scholarship search engines may look like they all share the same list of scholarships, but they do not. Each scholarship search engine is different—you could find a scholarship on fastweb.com that isn’t on scholarships.com.
To really maximize your scholarship search efforts, it’s in your best interest to create an account with as many scholarship search engines as you can find. Just prepare yourself with an email address with a strong spam filter and be sure to protect your personal information (e.g., your name, phone number, address).
Many scholarship search engines are free because they sell user information to third parties, so be careful what information you share.
3. You Don’t Have to Apply for Every Scholarship You Find
Just because you are eligible for a scholarship doesn’t mean that you have to apply. I never applied to historical essay contests, poetry contests, and any scholarship that required longer than a 700-word essay. I was able to find hundreds of scholarships to apply for even though I was being picky!
The whole point of applying for scholarships is to apply for as many as possible as soon as possible. If I were to spend a week studying up on the life of President Lincoln in order to write an essay about him, that’s time I could have spent applying to two easier scholarships. Bottom line: There are plenty of scholarships out there, and it’s perfectly OK to skip the scholarships that look too complicated.
Think of scholarship season as a 4-month sprint for free money. Dedicate yourself to the tactics I’ve laid out above and in my other blog posts, and you’ll be happy you did when your mailbox is filled with scholarship checks.
Have a scholarship question for Diane? Ask her yourself in our latest interactive webinar: Scholarships, Part 2: Writing a Winning Essay. It takes place TODAY at 4:30 p.m. ET. Sign up now! (UPDATE 2/27/12: This webinar is now available for live playback as a recording.)