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This message is for the high school juniors out there: start the scholarship search early. You guys are taking the SATs and AP tests, getting through high school, and thinking about what colleges you should apply to next fall. What you’re probably not thinking about is scholarships.

You guys have a pretty long to-do list this in the next year or so. You may think that the scholarship search should not start until next spring, and you still have a full year in front of you before you will start worrying about that. However, you should start now! These are the reasons why and some resources to help you.

1. Start a List. 

One of the most useful things you can do is at least make a list of scholarships you are interested in. Some of these may be for juniors, others might be for seniors. However, it’ll be good to at least have an idea of which scholarships you wish to apply to, as this will make your time applying for scholarships a lot easier. This list can be formulated with some of the many scholarship search engines on the web, your local scholarship handbook, or something you hear about in your local news. There are so many scholarships available, and if you start early, you will get a leg up as you will already have an idea of what to do.

2. Specific Junior Scholarships.

There are a lot of scholarships out there, and some of these are specific to high school juniors. You will only find them if you look for them, so start early. These might be local or something you find on the web, but you do not want to miss out on some money if you did not find a scholarship early enough. This is why you make your list first. If you need tips on finding and applying for scholarships, check out The Prospect’s information on scholarships.

3. Early Deadlines (in the Summer). 

Some scholarships have early deadlines during the summer before senior year. If you wish to apply to any of these, you will have to start early. Also, if any of these scholarship programs are college-specific, like the Washington & Lee Johnson Scholarship, you will want to have an idea that you wish to apply to that school to get started on the application early.

4. Benefits of Starting Early.

You also want to start early to make sure that your grades, test scores, and class schedules are up to caliber with the scholarships and colleges to which you want to apply. This will make sure there are no road bumps as you apply to scholarships and you are not rejected based upon a frivolous reason. Right now, seniors are applying for scholarships, so you can learn from your senior friends and note scholarships that you might be eligible for since they got them as well! Starting early gives you more scholarships to apply to and thus more potential money for college!

Juniors, start early on your search for scholarships! Underclassmen can also get involved in maximizing their scholarship awards by looking up organizations that give scholarships (for example, Key Club at my school gives money to seniors who have been involved) and getting involved in those organizations early on. They can look up classes that certain scholarships want and take them. Get involved early to maximize your scholarship award!

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