Do Not Wait Until Senior Year
I often hear from parents saying, “my son/daughter will start applying for scholarships in their senior year.”
I have often wondered why.
Senior year is a tale of two drastically opposed semesters. First semester is a frantic flurry of SAT/ACT’s and college applications, in addition to class work and extracurriculars.
Why wait until possibly the busiest time your child will face in high school to throw on another task?
On the flip side, you might think second-semester senior year is the perfect time to really go after scholarship money. Your child suddenly has an abundance of free time, the pressure is on to save some money, and it seems to be the sensible next step.
Let me ask you something: have you ever seen a second-semester senior?
Combine that with the fact that everyone else is going after scholarship money at the same time, so it’s most competitive at this point.
When Should We Start Searching?
As soon as you can.
There is a surprising amount of scholarship money available for students of young ages. We’re talking as soon as kindergarten. That’s right, KINDERGARTEN.
Understandably, parents of young kids don’t have ‘apply for college scholarship money’ high on their to-do list, but it sure doesn’t hurt to take a few minutes and see what kind of awards are out there.
Scholarships for younger students cover a wide range of categories. You can find scholarships in creative writing, art, poetry, history, politics, and STEM, as well as more unique awards covering environmental advocacy, community service, and patriotism.
Perhaps your child likes to draw. Take a look at Doodle for Google (K-12). The national winner gets a $30,000 scholarship and the four runners-up win $5,000 scholarships.
Maybe your child is not an artist in the traditional sense but has a keen interest in supporting the community. The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes (ages 8-18) awards those who have accomplished exceptional service work with $10,000 to use for college.
These are only two of many scholarships for younger students. You can browse many more here.
Finding Scholarships is a Life Skill
It takes work to find the money. As a parent, helping your child find scholarships at an early age will not only help with college funding, it will also help your child understand the power of hard work, discipline, and ‘selling themselves.’
Even more, they will learn that nothing in life is free. These are all skill sets that will be needed in the real world as adults.
Parents often tell me, “my kid has too much school work and school activities; there’s no time to apply for scholarships.”
Look, I understand that high school can be an insane balance of classes, school work, friends, SAT/ACT prep, sports, extracurriculars, and family.
That’s why I suggest looking at and applying for scholarships as early as possible.
But the reality is that most families are not focusing on scholarships until junior or senior year. If you are a high school junior or senior, you must be creative and use your time wisely. Set aside chunks of time on school breaks and weekends to knock out scholarship applications. Summer and winter breaks are especially useful.
I know of one family where the parents paid their daughter to spend the summer between her junior and senior year searching and applying for scholarships. Her parents paid her a set amount for each scholarship she received.
By the end of the summer, she had made nearly $15,000 in scholarship money and a few thousand dollars from her parents. Not only did she help her parents save money, but she also made more money for herself than if she had worked at the local ice cream shop.
There Are Scholarships for Just About Everything
Don’t discount micro-scholarships. They add up and are often very easy—dare I say fun—to apply to. Micro-scholarships can be as small as $500 for a simple task, and there is no limit on how many can be applied for.
Think your kids are spending too much time on social media? There are companies out there providing scholarship money to students who can increase company following on social media. Some companies may even pay you for completing a small task for them.
The money is out there. Go and get it.
Scholarships for younger students: https://www.savingforcollege.com/article/scholarships-for-younger-children
Unusual scholarships: https://yescollege.com/guides/weird-scholarships/