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Finding an Advantage for College and Scholarships
Who doesn’t want an advantage when it comes to college and scholarships?
This is a guest blog post written by our friend Jordan Schanda, Founder of ScholarPrep. Jordan and her mother developed ScholarPrep based on their personal experience with the college admission process.
They created the ScholarPrep Organizer, a comprehensive college planning, organization, and tracking system for parents and students. It covers every section that a student will encounter on a college or scholarship application, it provides helpful tips and information, helps students set goals and tracks everything that they will need to fill out applications.
Who doesn’t want a little competitive advantage for college acceptance and winning scholarships? With the average student graduating college with more debt each year ($37,172 in 2016), the pressure is on families to do anything they can to reduce the financial burden of higher education.
We’re here to tell you that there is a way – planning and organization.
If you’ve ever googled the phrase “how to prepare for college” then you know, there is a ton of information out there on what parents and students should be doing to prepare for college. The hard part is knowing how to do it and then, of course, actually doing it. This post will introduce you to a system that will help you set goals and track the information that you will need to fill out college and scholarship applications.
START PLANNING FRESHMAN YEAR FOR COLLEGE AND SCHOLARSHIPS
High school officially begins as soon as a student graduates from 8th grade; anything they do after that day can be included on their high school resume for college and scholarship applications. Therefore, freshman year of high school is the perfect time to start planning for college, even if it seems like college is so far away.
NOTE: Some students are now taking high school credits earlier than their freshman year of high school. Depending on your child’s classes in 8th grade, you may need to start planning earlier than others.
A little planning each month over four years will make the transition to college less stressful and overwhelming – for students and parents.
At the same time, high school juniors and seniors can still take advantage of the time they have left by identifying areas where they need to improve, setting goals, and organizing their information before they sit down to fill out applications.
If you do start planning a little late, ask teachers, parents, employers, community leaders, and even friends to help you recall what you have done during your high school career. It is amazing the things that are often forgotten that should be included in an application.
AVOID THE OBSTACLES MOST STUDENTS FACE
First, you need to know that there are two major obstacles for students when competing for scholarships and college acceptance.
The first obstacle students must overcome is having all of their high school experiences and information from four years of high school written down and organized. Writing everything down will ensure that you don’t have an overwhelming experience when filling out applications.
If you don’t do this, you’ll sit down as a senior and look at the applications for the first time and say, “what have I done for the last 4 years?” Imagine yourself as a senior trying to remember that time you volunteered your freshman year… What was the date? How many hours were you there? It takes so much extra time to go back and try to account for all of the little details.
The key then is to collect this information as you go – track and organize the details of your activities a little bit at a time. The more organized your information is, the less time it takes to fill out applications. The less time it takes to fill out applications, the more likely you are to apply and you can apply for more scholarships with the time you saved.
FACT: Small local scholarships often go un-awarded because not a single student applied.
Don’t miss: How to Find More Local College Scholarships
The second obstacle is knowing what information you even need to be tracking – what you need to do to get the scholarship, program acceptance, internship, fellowship, or job. Typically, students never see a college or scholarship application until they sit down to fill one out; however, by this time it is too late to create a competitive application.
Planning in advance is the only way to make sure you will look competitive on paper and avoid regret. By the time you are applying, it is too late to prepare.
Of course, there is no way to know in high school what the perfect choices are to prepare for college, but what you don’t want is to reach your senior year and realize you should have taken the ACT or SAT test one more time, or that a scholarship you want (or need) is going to someone with more volunteer hours.
The only way to ensure that students don’t miss out on opportunities for college and scholarships is through proper planning and preparation.
MAKE A MONTHLY COMMITMENT TO PLANNING
Let’s talk more about how this system works. The most important part is making a monthly commitment to planning for college. Just a few minutes a month can make a significant difference in how prepared you are and it will reduce the amount of time and stress involved in the long run.
It is essential that students and a committed adult (parent/guardian/teacher/counselor/consultant) schedule a time to meet each month to document the previous month’s activities.
TIP: Set a reminder on a calendar or your phone to ensure you meet every month.
This monthly meeting is the time to set and review goals. For example, if you committed to joining two clubs in your sophomore year, you need to be reminded near the beginning of that school year. Perhaps you can also pursue an officer position to get some leadership experience.
It will become apparent after a few monthly meetings which areas need more attention. This monthly meeting will also keep you on track for important events, such as scheduling ACT/SAT tests. Most importantly, meeting on a monthly basis will allow you to record all the details of your activities.
So, how do you go about tracking and organizing all of the information you will need when senior year rolls around?
USE A SCHOLARPREP ORGANIZER
The ScholarPrep Organizer is the ultimate college planner for families on the college-bound journey and here’s why…
Getting organized is the first step to helping students prepare for college. This essential step will ensure that their college or scholarship applications are complete – that nothing is forgotten or missed. The best way to do this is with a physical organizer.
Even though we live in a digital world, the most effective way to keep a monthly commitment to planning is to have that physical component.
Applications will require physical copies of letters of recommendation, resumes, cover letters, and other application documents. On top of that, research shows that writing down your commitments and goals by hand will help you accomplish them.
The ScholarPrep Organizer is the only solution out there that addresses those two obstacles that students inevitably face senior year.
The ScholarPrep Organizer is the tool that parents will keep on their desks at home as a physical reminder to sit down with their students each month to do a little planning and goal setting. It helps students set goals, track their progress and organize all of the information they will need to get accepted into college and get the scholarships they need to pay for their education.
ORGANIZATION IS KEY FOR COLLEGE AND SCHOLARSHIPS
The ScholarPrep Organizer covers every section that a student will encounter on a college or scholarship application:
- Academics and Testing
- Extracurricular Activities
- Community Involvement
- Leadership Experience
- Honors and Awards
- Work Experience
- Essays and Statements
- Letters of Recommendation
Each section of the ScholarPrep Organizer contains helpful hints, tips, examples of entries and timely reminders! This isn’t just another book you have to read. Your ScholarPrep Organizer will walk you through the process of preparing for college, while also providing you tons of valuable information.
We have already set up the perfect organizational system for you; just plug in your information.
Doing this will help in every aspect of college and scholarships!
Every aspect of the ScholarPrep Organizer was carefully designed with students and parents in mind. The ScholarPrep Organizer is a comprehensive organizational tool to ensure students are prepared for college, which means no more worrying that your child won’t be able to attend the college of their choice because you can’t afford it!
Here are some of the great features of the ScholarPrep Organizer that will give you an advantage as you prepare for college and scholarship applications.
Using the Monthly Log at the beginning of the book is key to setting goals and tracking information before it’s forgotten. Students will be most successful if they commit to going through their Organizers once a month. Be sure to log the date of each monthly session.
Most sections of the organizer contain a handy storage pocket for easy access to important documents. Tracking and saving hard copies of test scores, letters of recommendation, or community service verification letters in their corresponding sections will save you time when you need them for your applications.
Quick Tips: Reading over the quick tips in each section is a great way to jog your memory when trying to recall what you need to record from the last month. This is also the easiest way to create or update your goals and to-do list for the upcoming month or brainstorm possible opportunities that match your interests.
Tracking and Organization
Tracking all of your information from four years of high school will be less overwhelming if done a little bit each month rather than right before applications are due. Each section of the ScholarPrep Organizer includes tracking pages where you can organize every detail of your high school experience.
Needing even more help? Want someone to hold your hand through the process so you know you haven’t missed a single thing? Enroll in our College and Scholarships Planning Essentials course designed for parents and students.Use the info here to get organized and WIN more college scholarships Click To Tweet
Monica Matthews is the author of How to Win College Scholarships. She helped her own son win over $100,000 in college scholarships and now shares her expertise with other parents and their students. She truly has “been there, done that” in regards to helping parents and students navigate the scholarship process.
Her method of helping students in finding college scholarships, writing unique and compelling scholarship essays, creating amazing scholarship application packets and more, have taught desperate parents to help their own students win thousands of scholarship dollars.
Monica’s scholarship tips have been featured on many prominent websites and she has been dubbed the “Go-To” expert on college scholarships.