By Diana Smith

Middle school, junior high, and high school can be such an overwhelming time, from school dances to forgetting your book project at home. While there are so many things going on, it’s important to start thinking about college and how to pay for it. I had no savings. That meant coming up with other ways to get my college paid for. Just in a couple years from now, your parents and high school counselors will be pushing you to apply for scholarships. Avoid the impossible last-minute-struggle of basically trying to pull money out of nowhere by starting to search and prepare for scholarships right now!

Here are some tips for getting started from my experience:

  • Take some time to brainstorm activities you already enjoy.
  • Using those activity ideas, see if you can volunteer or get involved in your community or school. See if there is a club or group at school. If none of the options at your school sound appealing, try looking in your community, try looking online, or create your own!
  • Use a search engine to see if there are any volunteering or community service opportunities near you. Scholarship judges are looking for students with long-term volunteer work. Why? Because it shows dedication and commitment.

When it comes time to apply for scholarships, my first piece of advice is to breathe. Deeply. It can all seem so overwhelming – Especially when you have loads of schoolwork to get done.

Getting organized is a very important step while applying for scholarships. Keeping a binder, folder, calendar, or excel spreadsheet can help out immensely when prioritizing paying for college, scholarshipsdeadlines. Use our Scholarship Toolkit to help you organize your scholarship efforts.

Easily the most overwhelming part of applying for so many scholarships is that they usually require an essay. Don’t panic! After you write a couple, you will begin to see a pattern. After those first few it becomes much easier because you can pull from what you’ve already written to use in new essays for other scholarships.

Diana is an intern with UHEAA outreach. She graduated Wasatch High School last May and received her associate degree from Dixie State University. She remained undecided in her major for a while until she realized she wanted to major in international studies and transferred to the University of Utah where she is working on two bachelor degrees. If you have questions about her blog or about anything related to preparing and paying for college, follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat @dianamsmith77