As December rolls around in the college application process, most high school seniors have made good progress on completing their admissions and financial aid applications. After they clear out any last minute details there, they will have one last area to attack – scholarships. Many scholarships have deadlines in December, so it is important to focus attention now on this key component of paying for college.
Billions of dollars are awarded to prospective college students every year, yet some still get frustrated and feel like they are getting nowhere. It looks like they are working very hard, but it is quite possible that these students might actually be ruining their own chances of getting a scholarship. Here are some of the top ways to torpedo your scholarship opportunities:
- Miss Scholarship Deadlines: Most high school students are not noted for their organizational abilities, but there is no better time to learn than right now. Look at the deadline for each potential scholarship, and then plan to have all your application requirements in at least ten days before that date.
- Don’t Get Letters of Recommendation: Getting letters from adult mentors in your life takes effort, even in the best of times. COVID has made it much more difficult to contact these people, request a letter, and follow-up to make sure it is received in time. Start now to get the letter process rolling efficiently.
- Apply to the Wrong Scholarships: There are so many scholarships out there that some students just jump right in and hope for the best. A better approach is to take time first to research your scholarship opportunities and zero in on the ones that are most suited to your particular skills and personality traits.
- Look Only for Large Scholarships: It can be appealing to look only for the big money scholarships, but those often have a lot of competition. Don’t count out those smaller, local scholarships that you have a better chance of winning. A few hundred dollars here and there might just make the difference in helping to offset some of those surprising college costs.
- Don’t Put in the Necessary Work: Applying to scholarships is not a relaxed, laid-back process. It takes work and organization. Make sure you read the requirements carefully, learn the art of essay writing, and don’t miss out because you overlooked an important detail. Bagging that big scholarship, though, can be well worth the effort.
Some scholarships will not announce their awards until several months after the application deadline, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear from them right away. Just keep working away at the next scholarship opportunity, and increase your odds of winning some cash to help pay for college.