Managing the Scholarship Application Process

scholarship application processWith my oldest daughter, keeping track of scholarship applications was more difficult than keeping track of college applications, because there were so many scholarships with different deadlines and different requirements.  It was also challenging to keep my daughter interested in applying to dozens of scholarships with different sets of required materials.

Due to the face that I work as a project manager, I decided that if I found a way to organize the scholarship application process for my daughter, it would help her stay motivated to apply for scholarships and not feel overwhelmed by the process.  I found it very helpful to create a “scholarship tracker.”  It allowed us to keep track of the deadlines, requirements and submission methods associated with each different scholarship and it provided the opportunity to group like requirements so we could see how many different essays, recommendation letters, etc. that my daughter needed to submit.  A scholarship tracker can be created on paper, on a whiteboard, or in a spreadsheet (click the link to see the spreadsheet I created).

As we found different scholarship opportunities, we added them to the scholarship tracker.  You can easily follow the process we used:

  • Record the deadline and submission method for each scholarship (mail, website, email, take to school counseling office, etc.).
  • Start a master list of all the required submission materials.  Most scholarships, whether local or national, require some sort of essay.  Some require a standard 500 word essay on educational goals and how the scholarship would help, others require different topics and/or a different number of words.
  • Assign a different letter of the alphabet to each submission requirement in the master list, like A = high school transcript, B = teacher recommendation letter, etc.  Keep adding to the list as you run across new scholarships.
  • When recording details for each separate scholarship, add the corresponding letters from the master submission material list that represent that scholarship’s requirements.  Then you can look down the list of scholarships and easily see how many copies of the transcript are needed, how many teacher recommendations, how many different essays need to be written, and so on.
  • Keep the list of scholarships in due date order.  This helps to ensure that deadlines are not missed.

Keeping the scholarship application process organized through the scholarship tracker motivated my daughter to keep applying to scholarships that were a good match.  Having everything organized this way kept her from getting overwhelmed and wanting to give up.  We kept a paper copy of the scholarship tracker out in the kitchen that she could refer to anytime to see her upcoming deadlines.  Without using a tool like this, it is easy for a student to miss deadlines and let potential scholarship money slip away – out of sight, out of mind.

Wendy Nelson is a full-time project manager and mom who started a website to help parents and their college-bound kids through the college search process,  She enjoys writing about education-related topics and is also an active contributor on

Bobby Touran is the founder and CEO of ApplyKit. ApplyKit helps students manage their entire college application process and also provides key resources to help them excel every step of the way.