5 Steps to Prepare for Scholarship Search Season

A frustrated student applying for scholarships.

Listen up, high school juniors! It’s time to start thinking about the important steps to come as you prepare for the next journey in your life: college. For many, one of the more stressful aspects of college preparation is financial planning, which is why College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC) encourages all students to seek scholarship opportunities to help cover the cost of higher education expenses; a process that usually commences in the fall semester of your senior year.

Scholarships are a great way to fund college expenses and also to demonstrate your accomplishments and eagerness to excel to institutions. Of course, you’ll need to research and give considerable thought to your applications, but imagine receiving a $1,000 scholarship after dedicating just two hours of your time to aid your future. It’s a no-brainer!

CFNC knows it’s easy to become overwhelmed by your senior year to-do list, which is why we are here to help ease the process for students and parents with five tips to prepare for your upcoming scholarship search.

1. Start the Scholarship Search Soon

Don’t wait until your senior year is halfway over! Get a head start on the scholarship hunt and make a list of all opportunities you are interested in and may qualify for. The earlier you begin, the more you will accomplish. Be sure to take note of any and all application requirements such as personal information and essay submissions!

Along with CFNC, your high school counselors are a wealth of experience and knowledge pertaining to this very subject! Don’t be afraid to reach out to them for help, they will be impressed and excited about a junior taking the initiative to start preparing for college on their own. Trust us, starting the scholarship search prior to your senior year will make the process all the easier!

2. Know the Possibilities of Your Potential

Scholarships are available for everyone, not just top athletes and students with perfect GPAs. There are scholarships for academic performance, minority groups, excellent community service, creativity, and even being left-handed! Nearly any characteristic that makes you, you, has the potential to be recognized and celebrated. A common mistake people make when searching for scholarships is overlooking those with small award amounts.

The time spent doing a scholarship application has the potential to reward you many times over, when compared to an equivalent amount of time working at an afterschool job, for example. While it can be time-consuming to complete a lot of applications, small amounts add up quickly and often have fewer people submit applications, which makes the likelihood of being awarded even better! Remember that these scholarships may be local, statewide, or national. Be sure to use CFNC to start your search!

3. Learning Happens Inside and Out

Make a list of all extracurricular involvement and any leadership positions you may possess, whether in school or in the community. Your involvement outside of the classroom is just as important as your academic performance. Not only will participating in extracurricular activities, such as student government, athletics, clubs, and community service look great on college applications, it will also unlock a variety of scholarships.

Many service and extracurricular organizations fund and award scholarships of their own, but even if the organization of your choice does not, the experience gained will be transferable to other scholarships with service requirements.

4. Mark Your Calendar, Set a Reminder

It may seem premature, but the last thing you want is to miss an opportunity because a deadline sneaks up on you. Take note of all application deadlines and mark your calendar! Setting up designated days to complete applications in your cell phone’s calendar can help visualize deadlines in the context of your schedule.

Creating reminder alerts on the days leading up to a due date can mean the difference between working thoughtfully and incrementally on an application, or rushing to get it done at all, right before the deadline.

5. Create Your CFNC Account NOW

If you don’t already have one, create a CFNC account to receive free career and college planning help. Advisors are ready to guide you through the scholarship application process and answer any additional questions about financing your future!