Your senior year of high school is going to be full of challenging classes, fun activities, and lots of college applications. How are you going to fit a scholarship search and even more applications into that busy schedule without losing your mind? If you follow these tips for organizing your scholarship search, you should be able to plan everything you need to do to apply for each of the scholarships you want, and you should be able to do it all without pulling your hair out.

Get Started Early

Of all of the tips we can give you, this is one of the most crucial. Start as soon as possible. You can start looking for and taking note of scholarships as early as your sophomore year. By junior year, you really should be in full scholarship search mode.

If you do this, by the beginning of the summer before your senior year, you’ll have a list of scholarships that you can apply for. You’ll know when applications are due and what you need to do to complete them and to be competitive. With some planning and organizing, you’ll be on your way to a stress-free scholarship search and application process. Now, let’s get into the particulars of your scholarship search game plan.

Plan Your Search and Be Consistent

Starting as early as possible, devote a little bit of time each week to finding scholarships. Don’t just say, “I’ll spend an hour sometime this week.” Instead, treat your scholarship search time like a class or an extracurricular activity.

Find a free hour in your schedule on the same day, at the same time each week, and stick to it. If you ride the bus or catch a ride to school with your parents or a friend, you can even use your commute time to search for scholarships online on your phone or tablet.

In addition to planning when you’ll search, though, you should also plan how you’ll search. Brainstorm all of the kinds of scholarships you might qualify for. Scholarships are awarded based on a number of criteria, including financial need, academic merit, ethnicity, gender, age, location, school, major, industry, and much more. List as many of these categories as you think that you qualify for, and plan out your search based on these criteria.

Vary Your Search – Get Offline

You should also look into a variety of resources for scholarships, as well. For example, do the companies your parents work for have scholarship programs? Can you get a part-time job working for a company that offers scholarships and/or stipends for college students? Some of the largest part-time employers in the country offer some very lucrative options for employees pursuing college degrees.

Reach out to corporations and non-profit organizations in your community. Find out if they have existing programs, or if they would like to start a scholarship program with you. The more you ask, the more likely you are to find a great funding opportunity.

Get a Calendar and Planner – And Use Them!

The more organized you are about your scholarship search, the less likely you’ll be to forget a deadline or miss a great chance for funding. So, if you aren’t already in the habit of using a calendar and/or a daily planner, start now.

To begin with, mark down your scholarship search time each week. Then, once you’ve started finding some promising scholarships to apply for, start marking down their deadlines. Then, for each one, read all of the requirements and start setting milestones and deadlines leading up to your final deadline.

For example, you’ll want to have a deadline for speaking with your favorite teacher, counselor, and/or mentor about recommendation letters. You’ll want a deadline for choosing your essay topic, one for completing an outline, and one for completing your first draft. The more specific you get with your personal deadlines, and the more consistent you are about keeping them, the better off you’ll be throughout the whole process.

Create a Scholarship Binder

While you’re doing all this, you’ll want to have all of your scholarship information on hand whenever you need it. So, get a three-ring binder and some dividers or a file folder and some manila envelopes for all of your scholarship materials. Each section can be devoted to a different scholarship. Keep everything you need for each one in its section, and keep a copy of all of your completed materials in each section after you’ve sent in your application(s).

For each section, you should also make a to-do list, including all of your application requirements. Starting early, staying organized, and checking things off these lists will give you a feeling of accomplishment and will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed throughout the process. You’ll have no problem getting everything done and sent off in time for all of your deadlines.

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.