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How to Apply for Scholarships

Depending on what scholarship your applying for, a scholarship application can vary quite a bit. To be considered for a scholarship, one foundation may require an academic resume that highlights your achievements, while others want an 500-word essay on a topic relevant to the organization, and others still will only let you apply once you have satisfied a preliminary requirement (such as an SAT test score). Some, however, like the free scholarships from, only require participation. In these cases, students apply to win by entering themselves into the scholarship contests, and can increase their chances of winning by participating in activities that allow them more entries into the drawing.

On this page we outline steps for how to apply for scholarships and give you some tips on where to find scholarships. If you need help writing you scholarship essay, visit our page on: How to write scholarship essays.

Applying for Scholarships

  1. You must first find scholarships that you can apply for.
  2. Make a checklist of required documents.
  3. Write essays, resumes, and complete requirements as stated.
  4. Submit the application materials.
  5. Follow up to make sure you materials were received and if there are any other ways you can help your chances, such as an interview, submitting a portfolio, or providing references.

Finding the Scholarships to Apply For

The toughest part to applying for scholarships is #1, actually doing the research and finding scholarships that you can apply for. While there are hundreds of athletic, academic and just plain weird scholarships that may make sense for you, sorting and selecting the right ones can be tough, and time consuming. Visit our page, updated daily with links to new scholarships, to find college scholarships for seniors.

Make a Checklist of Requirements

So, you have a long list of potential scholarships you can apply for, and the second hardest part is making the deadlines! If you are a high school senior you have no time to be sifting through search results to find the scholarships in the first place, so now that you have the list, when will you find the time to write the essays and submit them on time? Get organized by making a checklist.

Why a Checklist?

The time it takes to apply for scholarships is significant, this will cause many to hesitate from beginning the process all together. This is a BIG mistake... You will find that many scholarships require similar application materials, so once you get a solid essay and resume, for example, you can apply to the next scholarship that much faster. The research, creating a checklist and calendar, will take the most time, but doing this first will save you time in the long run. By breaking down the requirements you need by certain deadlines, you can better create an action plan of when to complete which requirement. Ultimately when you have a plan in place, applying for scholarships will be less stressful and more efficient — saving you time and frustration!

Checking it Twice

While you are rushing around trying to make deadlines, be careful not to switch requirements for one scholarship with another. While scholarship application guidelines may vary, they are usually straight forward, and you will miss out if you are not paying attention. Sometimes, you need to slow down to speed up. Use your checklist to make sure you have satisfied the requirements, before submitting your application!

Trouble Finding the Time?

Carve out the time you need — mark off dedicated time in your schedule on a weekend, after Wednesday soccer practices, etc. You may even be able to do this during school hours. Ask your English, or a study hall teacher for the time to sit a computer, or to go to the guidance office to do scholarship research. Counselors can suggest local and national scholarships, and scholarship search resources to help you.

Take the Initiative

Don't wait until Mom and Dad start nagging you to apply for scholarships. You can apply for scholarships throughout your Senior year, and can expect to continue the hunt throughout college. Get your act together, and take the initiative to get a scholarship application plan together before the nagging starts. Education is so important, and can be so expensive! Paying for college with scholarships is the best way in the long run to avoid student loan debt, so take the time and apply to as many scholarships as you can! Show your parents the application calendar or checklist you made, and feel satisfied that you are taking on some responsibility.

Following Up After You Apply

After you submit your scholarship applications, congratulations on your efforts and good luck! The only thing you really have to do now is wait, but it may help to call the organization or send a quick email, if you can, to make sure they got your materials. This follow up call is not to improve your chances or convince them by phone to pick you! If the deadline is tomorrow and you sent the form last week, call to check they received your application. If it got lost in the mail, for example, you will still have time to fax over another copy for consideration.

When you get confirmation that they have your materials, you can ask if what you sent was complete, or if you can supply them anything further such as references, or a link to your portfolio online. Most likely the friendly person on the other end of a phone will tell you that your application is all set and that you will have to wait. You may gain additional information during this phone call, however, such as when the winner be chosen and if there are other opportunities during the year to win scholarships from this foundation.