How to Start the College Scholarship Process
Do you want your students to win money for school, but have no idea how to start the college scholarship process?
Most parents have heard that there is a lot of college scholarship money out there for their students to win, but have no idea what to do or where to start in the process of finding and applying for them. I recommend that parents begin by talking to their students about their financial situation and how they plan to make the scholarship process a team effort. If students are aware of their parents’ desire to help them find and win scholarships, they will be more willing to do their share of the work involved. (Learn how I helped my son win over $100,000 in college scholarships here)
Talking about the high cost of college, the family’s financial situation, and how scholarship money can greatly reduce future student debt will help students see how important it is to start early and do everything they can to win scholarships. These conversations are not always comfortable, but are extremely important as students begin their college search and start to get inundated with standardized test prep information and college brochures early on in high school.
The next step is to set up a file box with the following folders: resume, transcripts, letters of recommendation, community service, test results, honors/awards won, tax information, applied scholarships, not yet applied, scholarships won, college brochures, essays, employment, and printing materials.
Having a place to put all the information that will be coming your way is key to getting organized right from the start. Let your student know exactly where you are going to collect their information and encourage them to get in the habit of adding any correspondence from school that has to do with college and scholarships to the designated folder. Creating a digital folder on your computer is another way to quickly save information that you think may be useful and your student can forward any emails or articles they receive to you or save them to be referenced later in the scholarship process.
In regards to community service and employment, is good to know early on that many organizations offering scholarships will want to know exactly how many hours per week the student has volunteered or worked all through high school. Figuring out that number when the students is a senior is a daunting task, so keeping track of the hours as soon as he or she starts high school is a great way to easily provide an accurate number when filling our scholarship applications.
Also make note of the names and contact information for each job or community service project the in which the student has been involved. Employers and volunteer coordinators can be great sources when students need quality letters of recommendation as part of the scholarship application package.
Community service is a large part of many scholarship applications like I share in this post here, so encouraging students to start volunteering early in high school is a great way to prepare them to be eligible to apply for more scholarships.
Would you like to read more? I have put together a step-by-step scholarship guide sharing exactly how I helped my son win enough college scholarships to graduate from college debt-free.