I’m going to tell you something that may be hard to believe, so prepare yourself for this news. College is expensive. *GASP* I know, it’s shocking, right? There wasn’t extra money for college when I was a teen. I NEEDED to get scholarships to ease the financial burden. Today I’m going to share with you the top 5 tips I learned to succeed with scholarship applications. You and your teen will be better prepared and less stressed when you follow them!
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1. Embrace a Passion
Jack of all trades, master of none. We’ve all heard that phrase. Don’t let this happen to your kids. Having a variety of skills is great. Encouraging your kids to embrace a passion, though, will help them succeed even more.
A Passion Gives Them a Way to Serve
Raise your hand if you want your teen to develop a servant’s heart. In order to do that, they need to have opportunities to serve others. Embracing a passion will give them a way to serve others that they really want to do!
A Passion Gives Them Direction
People shouldn’t start college until they know what they want to do with their lives. I know that probably ruffles some feathers, but it’s true. It’s far too expensive for a kid to go to college to ‘find themselves’. Ask how I know! By helping your kid to embrace a passion (or two), you’re helping them explore directions for their future without such a hefty price tag!
A Passion Gives Them Scholarship Opportunities
I don’t know if you realize this or not, but there are tons of scholarships out there for unique groups. There are opportunities for budding chefs, birdwatchers, and even comic book super fans! Embracing a passion will open the door to new scholarship opportunities.
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God is pretty clear in his call for us to volunteer. We are to serve others and allow them to serve us (I wrote a whole post about it that you can read here). Getting your teens volunteering will help them to develop the habit for adulthood.
Volunteering Allows Them to Serve Others
If you want your kid to have a servant’s heart, you’re going to have to give him a chance to serve. Work together to find a place for him to volunteer on a regular basis. Get int here and volunteer with him to show him how important it is!
Volunteering Helps Committees See They Care
Gone are the days when scholarship committees only cared about a perfect GPA or athletic ability. Many want to see that students care about the communities they live in and have a well-rounded life. Volunteering helps them see that your teen really does care.
Volunteering Should Be Tracked
Your teen should obviously volunteer without expecting something out of it. The goal is to help others! That said, keeping good records of her volunteer work is really important. Keep notes with the dates, times, organizations, and supervisors’ names to use on scholarship applications.
3. Find a Mentor
You are, and always will be, the #1 influence in your child’s life. You still need to find a mentor for your child, though. Find someone who can help you guide your teen on his journey to adulthood.
Mentors Make Good Guides
The journey from child to adult is long and winding. It is easy for kids to get a little lost. A good mentor can help you guide your teen along that path.
Mentors Make Good Sounding Boards
Teens need someone to bounce ideas off of. Their growing independence means they often prefer someone other than their parents. That’s why mentors are so important. They make good, trustworthy sounding boards.
Mentors Make Good References
Many scholarship applications ask for reference letters. A mentor is going to know your teen quite well. That makes him the perfect person to write a reference letter!
4. Get a File Box
Get a file box. I know it feels a bit old school, but it serves a purpose. Staying organized is vital while working on scholarship applications. The file box lets you keep everything in one place (so you don’t lose things) while keeping things organized (so you don’t forget anything).
Use Monthly Folders
Shoving everything in one mass into the file box isn’t going to help. Remember, the goal is for your teen to stay organized. Start by creating a hanging file for each month of the year.
Sort Your Papers
The next step is to put the scholarship applications in the files. Believe it or not, they should NOT go in the file for the month they are due! You want to put each application in the folder for two months ahead of when it’s due. Then there is no scrambling at the last minute!
We live in a digital age so printing probably seems silly. It’s not; I promise. Print EVERYTHING to do with scholarship applications. It gives your teen a paper back-up and she can easily double check that she has everything done.
Create Base Essays
Most scholarship applications require some sort of essay. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel each time. There are a few types of essays that are most commonly requested. Save your kid a lot of time by having him write a few base essays that can be easily modified to fit an application’s requirements.
A Life-Changing Event
What is something that has changed your teen’s life? It can be a joyous event or a tough one, a volunteer experience, the birth or death of a loved one, etc. Have her choose something and write about how it has impacted her life so far and her future.
An Important Person
This doesn’t have to be the most important person in his life. Going that route can cause teens to feel overwhelmed and freeze up. Just have him choose someone who has had a significant influence. At the same time, strongly encourage him to avoid celebrities and instead choose someone he actually knows.
I’m going to assume that your college-bound teen has tangible and specific plans for the future. A lot of scholarship applications will want to know about her future plans. Have her write an essay about what she wants to do with her life/career and how college factors into that.
Scholarship Applications Made Easier
College is expensive. Student loans are an option, but they will burden your teen for years to come. If you both put in some work now you can find scholarships that will pay off in the long run. Follow the tips in this article to make the process much easier!