Did you know that you don’t have to be accepted into a college or wait for your college plans to be finalized before you can apply for a scholarship? You can start applying as early as your sixteenth birthday. Once you’ve made up your mind to study abroad, there are plenty of good reasons for starting early applications.
1. You’re closer to the top of the queue
The number of applicants for scholarships run into hundreds if not thousands. The sooner you apply, the greater your chances of being considered for the scholarship. If you’ve done everything right and if you deserve it, then you shouldn’t have any trouble obtaining the scholarship that you need. Many students fall behind in the scholarship queue when they submit in a hurry, make mistakes and aren’t respectful of the process.
2. You will save thousands of dollars in financial aid
When you start searching for scholarships early, you stand to potentially save thousands of dollars that you could miss out on if you’re late. For instance, say your application arrives late at the financial aid office or when you miss out on potential money-saving programs just because you applied too late. You can avoid such scenarios simply by preparing your search and applications in advance.
Some students also give up searching, afraid that they’d end up wasting hours on a futile task. Rather than calculating the number of hours spent on your search for scholarships as hours lost, you should see it as hours valuably spent. If you win a couple of scholarships totalling $2000 after 50 hours of research, it’s equivalent to making $40 an hour.
3. You won’t risk waiting too long
Every year, you’ll find financial aid authorities come across students who have waited too long to apply for scholarships. They end up missing deadlines for scholarships and have very few options left to them. Many scholarships have deadlines in January, so you’d be less likely to miss these than someone who waits until their senior year to apply. You should start searching for scholarships around mid-year while you’re still in your junior year.
4. You will have more opportunities to apply
If you start early, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to apply again even after a rejection. There are certain scholarship programs that are open to all high school students. In fact, you can start applying from the age of 13 if you want to. If you don’t win a scholarship on your first attempt, you can always improve your application and apply the following year.
5. You’ll be less stressed when you’re applying to colleges
Usually, just before you start sending out your college applications, you will be busy preparing for your senior secondary examinations. You won’t have a lot of time to track scholarships in the last minute. You may end up feeling stressed and finding things difficult to manage. If you start searching for funding when you’re sixteen, you can look at a more leisurely pace. Last-minute applications could also end up having errors that you’ll avoid if you’ve started the process well in advance.
You’ll also be less burdened by the immense competition that comes with a scholarship application. It’s important to be able to take the time to carefully read and follow rules so that you don’t make mistakes in the application.
6. You’ll have more time to save up money
If you start noting down the organizations that offer scholarships when you’re sixteen, by the time you graduate and start sending in your college applications, it’s very likely that you’ll have a few good programs under your belt and a sizeable nest egg to take you through your study abroad program.
You may also have more time to save up additional funds towards your education. When it comes to expensive foreign education, every bit helps.
7. You’ll have more choices for college
When you have more money to fund your scholarship program, you’ll have a bigger choice of colleges you can go to. Tuition fees vary across colleges abroad. It goes without saying that the longer you prepare, the better your chances of being able to afford the college you really want to go to.
8. You’ll be able to build your competitiveness for scholarships
While you’re researching scholarships and applying a year and a half before you’re ready to leave, you’ll also have time to build up your resume and make it stronger for the application process. Scholarships are often granted on the basis of merit. But they are also granted for extracurricular activities, music, sports, performance arts, and other areas of interest. You’d be surprised by some of the specializations for which scholarships are available.
9. You can make use of the breaks to run searches
Yet another advantage of starting your search early is that you can make use of your winter and summer breaks to do your research. Those who begin only in the last minute often have to sacrifice valuable study hours just before the school leaving examinations because they’re afraid of missing deadlines.
International students who have decided to study abroad while they’re still finishing their undergraduate program should not wait to start searching. If you plan to study abroad a certain year, start applying at least a year and a half earlier, in the middle of the year.
Application is not a one-time thing. If you don’t win this year, you can apply next year. Look everywhere you can. Don’t ignore the smaller organizations that hand out a few hundred dollars – they can go towards the cost of your books. Small scholarships add up.
If you are going to apply, it’s best to do it correctly. Try to create a portfolio of all your documents and papers so that every application is easier than the one before it. Read and re-read rules so that you make no mistakes. Don’t leave your mail for the last minute. After all that hard work, you don’t want to have your application reach the authorities late.