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When you are a senior in high school, it seems like you will never have enough time to finish everything that you want to accomplish. The addition of scholarships to your schedule can seem overwhelming when each application has different requirements and deadlines, but with a little organization, you can optimize your scholarship search even with a busy schedule. Here are some scholarship tips to ensure that you meet the deadline.

What is the application deadline?

Most scholarship providers will list the application deadline in some sort of prominent way (bold type, underlined, etc.) on the application document or website. However, it is a great idea to read the entire application carefully when you first receive it, because sometimes the application deadline is not as clear-cut as it seems. Some applications have mini-deadlines for specific components of the application. For example, some scholarships may require that you take the ACT by a certain date, others might have you complete your FAFSA by an earlier deadline, and others may request that you apply to your college of choice by a priority date. Mark down any of these dates and be sure that you keep track of them as well as the main application deadline.

Next, it is important to know how the application submission method will affect the deadline. If it says that an application must be received by a specific day/time, that means that all elements of the application must be complete and in the hands of the scholarship provider by that date. In this case, put any paper applications in the mail a couple of days before the deadline date to ensure that it arrives on time. If there is a postmark date listed as the deadline, this means that your application must be in the mail by that day. Online/email submissions should be received instantly by the provider after you submit them, but it is still a good idea to not wait until the last minute to submit in case of technical difficulties.

What are the application requirements?

While reading through the application, be sure to note all of the required application components that you will need to submit. It is important to do this as soon as possible because some elements of your application will take longer to complete than others. Some common components of scholarship applications are essays, letters of recommendation, FAFSA documentation, school transcripts, and more.

In addition, you will need time to proofread your application before you submit it. Most of these tasks cannot be accomplished the day before the deadline. In fact, you should start on components like the letter of recommendation a few weeks in advance to ensure that it is completed in time. For each application, mark all of the individual pieces that you must complete and estimate how long that each one will take. Be sure that you make realistic timelines based on your other obligations!

What organization method is best for you?

Once you know when your application is due and have an idea of how long each component will take to complete, mark important scholarship milestones on your calendar. Some people prefer paper planners or calendars, but the calendar and reminder functions on your phone are also great ways to stay organized. Find what method works for you and go for it!

Keeping track of several scholarship applications at once can be difficult, but with a little work, you will turn in your applications on time and be well on your way to earning that scholarship money.