Does your college to-do list seem like it’s getting longer instead of shorter? Do you find yourself rushing to complete scholarship applications at the last minute? If you answered ‘yes’ to either of these questions, you’ll want to keep reading this post. We are going to give you five tips to help you accomplish more without adding hours to your daily schedule. Even if you are the world’s biggest procrastinator, these tips are going to help you get better organized and increase your productivity. Are you ready to have more chances to win free money for college? Let’s get started!
1. Set Priorities
When you have multiple projects on your plate, it’s very easy to lose sight of what is most important. In the world of scholarships, the following things should be considered when determining which scholarship applications should be tackled first: application deadlines, length of essays, and award amounts. First, you’ll want to select scholarships that have application deadlines that are two to three weeks away. Once you arrange the applications in order by deadline dates, you’ll want to put those with longer essays (500 words or more) or multiple essays higher on your priority list. Now look at the award amounts and bump those with larger scholarship prizes to the top of your list. This will ensure that you are working on those with the most work (and less competition) for the highest reward first. This doesn’t mean you should disregard the smaller awards, just place them further down on your to-do list.
2. Work Smarter, Not Harder
Once you have your priority list of applications organized, create a checklist of items needed for the first four to six scholarships on your list. This will help you focus on specific sections of your scholarship applications each day, such as letters of recommendation, activities lists, and essays. Several items may be required across all scholarship programs on your list, and identifying the overlapping requirements can make your life much easier. For example, three of your applications may each require you to submit two letters of recommendation. Instead of going back to your teachers and mentors several times over the next few weeks, simply ask for all of your letters at once. This saves time for your recommenders as well; they can adjust a few phrases without having to write new letters over and over again. The same principle may hold true for your essays as well. Already writing an essay about your future goals? Why write a completely different essay for another program that requires you to describe where you see yourself in 5 or 10 years? Simply tweak the “goals” essay to fit the second essay theme; recycling your own scholarship essays is a proven time-saving strategy. Keep electronic copies of everything you create so you can easily re-use a portion of an essay or a modified version of your writing again.
3. Use a Timer
Research has shown that students can get more work done when they work in short periods of time. Don’t try to accomplish everything in one day or over a single marathon weekend. Instead, get a timer and set aside 30 minutes or an hour each day to focus on your scholarship applications. Once the timer expires, move on to something else to give your brain a break. You’ll probably find that you get more done when you know there is a limited amount of time in which to complete your work.
4. Avoid Distractions
Of course, in order to concentrate and really focus during that limited amount of time, you’ll need to eliminate distractions. This means shutting off your cell phone, turning off the television, and letting others know you need some quiet time. Find a space that is free from the hustle and bustle of campus, or your family, and make sure you have everything you need to complete your tasks for the day.
5. Divide and Conquer
Are your parents constantly reminding you to apply for scholarships? Use that to your advantage! Get mom or dad to fill out the contact information and other biographical components of your applications. This will give you more time to concentrate on the important elements, like your personal statements and scholarship essays. You could even recruit them to help make copies, address envelopes, or put together a checklist of items for the next scholarships on your priority list.
Once you have a plan of action and get a routine going, the process of applying for scholarships each month may become second nature to you. You might even find that you enjoy applying for scholarships, especially once you fine tune your process. Just remember to update your priority scholarship list at least once a month and use several resources, like ScholarshipExperts.com, to continually find new applications to add to your list. Oh, and one last thing: if you win a scholarship, please come back and share your good news with us in the comments. We love hearing about your scholarship application success stories!
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