As a junior or senior in high school, you have a lot on your plate. You’re not only getting more academic work and responsibility than you had in middle school and early high school, but now you have to search for college programs and scholarships, too. If you want to fund your college career, you’re going to have to be on top of your scholarship search.

You know this is going to take time and effort, but you can’t let your grades slip, either. If you spend all of your time looking for and applying to scholarships for college, you’re going to lose your academic standing. That can quickly become a major problem for both your scholarship applications and your college admissions applications.

So, how can you balance it all and get it all done? Honestly, the key to keeping your grades up, finding and applying for scholarships, and keeping your sanity is both simple and straightforward. If you start now and don’t give in to procrastination, you’ll keep a good work balance that won’t leave you behind in school or your scholarship search.

Get Ahead of the Game

To begin, start right now. The sooner you start looking for scholarships, the sooner you’ll know what their requirements are, when applications are due, and what you have to do to increase your chances of being chosen. If you can start searching for college scholarships as early as your junior year or the summer before your senior year, you will be ahead of the game.

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to spend all of your time searching for and applying to scholarships. In fact, the earlier you start, the less of your time you’ll need to spend on it. If you have several months or a year before you need to start sending in applications, you can start by devoting an hour or two, once or twice a week to finding your best options and starting the process.

Plan Ahead

As you find scholarships that you qualify for, start marking their deadlines in your calendar. If the deadlines are several months away, you don’t have to start writing essays or filling out applications right away. However, you absolutely should start planning when you’ll need to start writing.

You should also start approaching your favorite teachers and/or mentors about recommendation letters now, rather than later. If you need to put together a portfolio of work or art for a scholarship, start brainstorming and listing all of the supplies and help you’ll need. If you need someone to photograph your work, approach him or her now, not a week before your deadline.

Make a Schedule

Once you’ve gathered all of the information for the scholarships you’ll be applying for, sit down and plan your schedule in detail. Remember that you’ll need to devote time for homework and any extracurricular activities each evening after school. Block out the time you’ll be spending on these activities, as well as the time you’ll spend at school, commuting, eating with your family, and other things that will take up your time.

With this schedule in front of you, find chunks of time when you have nothing else going on after school. Carve out 30 minutes here and an hour there. Before you know it, you’ll have found a lot more time than you thought possible to get all of your scholarship applications finished.

Set Deadlines and Stick to Them

As you carve out time from your schedule to work on your applications, be very specific about what you’re going to work on and what you want to accomplish. If you have an application that’s due in December, for example, you should map out when you need to fill out your application form, when you should have your first draft of your essay written, when your recommendation letter needs to be finished, and when you need to have everything completed, polished, and in the mail.

If it’s the beginning of September, and you need to have your application submitted by the end of December, you have four months to get everything done. That’s plenty of time if you spread the work out evenly over that time. Set milestones and deadlines. Schedule specific times to follow up with your teachers and/or mentors about your recommendation letter. Talk to your friends, parents, and teachers about when they can read a draft of your essay. Plan these things into your schedule and set deadlines for each of them.

The more specific and detailed your schedule is and the more small deadlines you have, the easier it will be to balance your academic and extracurricular life with the scholarship search. You can also help maintain balance by including your parents in your plans. Let them know when you need to do which tasks, and they’ll be able to better help you throughout the whole process.

Stick to this plan, and you’ll find searching for and applying to scholarships is a lot easier than you ever thought it would be.

Search and Apply for Scholarships on ScholarshipChart.com

ScholarshipChart.com helps students and parents search and apply for scholarshipsgrants, awards and other financial aid options to help pay for college. Whether you are a high school senior starting college or a single mom going back to school, you can find money for college through ScholarshipChart.com.