If you’re a high school senior, you’ve probably spent some time thinking about scholarship applications. Although there are several scholarships available during the first semester of your senior year (and you should definitely apply for those if you aren’t already doing so), most scholarships will be due spring semester, with peak times being March-April. With that in mind, fall semester is a great time to do some scholarship prep so that you will be in a good position to apply for the best scholarships. Here are some application components that you can prepare in advance.Female graduate holding money

Essays

Scholarship essays should be tailored to each individual application, but luckily many applications have similar essay prompts. If you come up with ideas for essays now, it will save you time down the road. Some common essay prompts include:

  • Why do you deserve this scholarship/how will this scholarship help you?
  • Tell us about a time that you persevered through obstacles or learned from failure.
  • Why are you interested in your future major/career path?
  • What are some of your academic/career goals, and how do you plan to achieve them?
  • Tell us about yourself.
  • Tell us something that you learned from extracurricular activities/work experience/volunteerism.

Letters of Recommendation

Now is the perfect time to recruit people to write recommendations for you. If you have a pool of potential recommenders ready, you won’t have to find someone last-minute. Choose adults who know you well, who are interested in your future success, and who you can trust to produce a quality letter on a deadline. And remember, no family members allowed! Here are some ideas of who to ask for a recommendation:

  • Teachers or counselors at your school
  • Athletic coaches or leaders for your extracurricular activities
  • Adult mentors, friends, or neighbors
  • Supervisors where you work or volunteer
  • Leaders in your church or place of worship

Academic Information

Many scholarship applications require information about academics. To prepare yourself for scholarship applications, follow these steps:

  • Figure out your Grade Point Average (GPA) if you don’t already know it
  • Find out how to request an official transcript from your school
  • If you haven’t already, take the ACT and have your scores ready

Financial Information

Financial need is a component of several applications. If you are asked to provide information about finances, you will likely need information from your family’s most recent tax return and/or data from your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is currently open for the 2021-2022 school year, so fill it out if you haven’t already!

Scholarships can be time-consuming, but a little preparation in advance can go a long way. Now get out there and start applying!