You may know that there are thousands of scholarship opportunities available for your student, but do you know when to start preparing for these award applications? Like most things in your education, it is better to start preparations early. As a general rule, it will suffice to begin looking at scholarship procedures and applications during the student’s sophomore or even junior year of high school. For the truly motivated, it can be helpful and eye-opening to begin research on the scholarship process as early as middle school. Some scholarships accept applications from high school freshman, while others are restricted to seniors only. To best prepare yourself for financial aid operations, review free scholarship searches from FinAid and Sallie Mae. Familiarize yourself with the scholarships that seem best suited to your student, whether they are related to academics, extracurricular activities or other factors like cultural heritage. Compose a basic spreadsheet with deadline information so that you know when exactly to start preparing applications.
It can be enlightening to sit down with your student and discuss his or her goals and objectives. Find out from your child if he or she is more motivated by essay or competition-style scholarship prospects, and plan accordingly. Encourage your student to pay a visit to the school guidance office. Guidance counselors are armed with a wealth of information on scholarships, including timelines and application guidelines, and can even recommend appropriate award opportunities.
You may also want to visit your local library, or even your student’s high school library, for more information on scholarship applications. Based on the information you find, you may be able to restructure activities and course load priorities while your child prepares ideas for essay prompts. Encourage your student to periodically search for new scholarship opportunities and to keep records of applications and submissions. With some careful planning, you should be able to successfully navigate the world of college scholarships.