You’ve heard the expression two heads are better than one; this is doubly true with scholarship hunting. In your personal brand assessment, you got a sense of what kind of person you are – creative, analytical, organized, etc. You have certain skills, certain “superpowers” that you excel at, but may not be as strong in other areas. Gather a small group of friends together and mutually agree to meet once a week or so to scholarship hunt together.
When you put together your team, you’ll want to look for a set of skills that different people can bring to the team.
• Creative: Find someone who’s a good writer and storyteller. Everyone will take responsibility for writing their own scholarship essays, but having someone who can think creatively will only boost the group’s power.
• Detail-orientated: Know someone who is so organized, it’s a little intimidating? This is the person you want in charge of the group calendar.
• Technical: Who’s the most technology-orientated person you know? Ass them to the team and they can help set you up personal Web pages, get software and Web apps set up, and make all your processes more efficient.
• Literate: The ability to use the English language fluently, find grammar and syntax errors and make words flow is essential for any kind of scholarship or admissions essay. Having someone on the team who can correctly distinguish when to use your vs. you’re or who vs. whom will be a huge benefit to the team’s work.
It’s important to note that while these characteristics effectively establish areas of expertise and specialty among team members, everyone is still responsible for pulling their own weight, and setting ground rules to ensure fairness will be essential to making the team as a whole succeed.
Some basic suggested rules might include:
• Everyone shares the work equally. Even though there are specialties, you’ll read each other’s essays and applications.
• Everyone works to help each other. It’s likely there will be some scholarships that everyone will be eligible for. Make a commitment to help your teammates as much as you help yourself.
• Everyone shares the knowledge. Individual team members will come up with different opportunities during research. No one holds anything back.
• Everyone shares the rewards. Assuming the team is highly motivated and focused, it’s likely you’ll net more scholarships than you can use. If that becomes the case, refer other team-mates to the awarding agency for consideration.
How would a scholarship search team work together? Let’s say you has 3 months set aside for your team, meeting each week for 16 weeks. Here’s a possible schedule for your team, assuming a team of 4 others besides yourself.
• Week 1: Introductions. Establish your team, get to know each other, including what specialties each team member has and what colleges and scholarships they’re applying for. For the technical person, this is also the week to set up a group Web site (like a private forum or social networking group, etc.) and calendar.
• Weeks 2-6: Research. During the week, each team member researches and locates a scholarship a day for themselves and one for each team member. For example, in week two, you might find 7 scholarships for yourself and one for each of your 4 teammates, if you have 4 other teammates. Contribute the scholarships to a group forum and add deadlines to the group calendar.
• Weeks 7-12: Writing. In weeks 2-6 you should have accrued 35 scholarship opportunities for yourself and each of your teammates should have contributed 5 towards your goals. Now comes the writing part.
Everyone should bring at least one essay to the group each week and take an essay from each teammate home, make constructive suggestions, and return them the next week. In this way, you’ll get at least 4 other perspectives reading your essays and refining them.
• Weeks 13-16: Application prep. While everyone will be responsible for their own letters of recommendation, transcripts, and other materials, bring your applications to the group and have everyone double-check the contents, making sure that everything requested for a scholarship is included. At the end of week 16, have an envelope sealing and mailing party, and send out your scholarship applications!
Bear in mind, this is just a rough outline of one possible group method. You and your group will find the things that work best for you and the things that don’t, so by no means is this a rigid recipe for success. Work with your team for mutual success, figure out a schedule and process that works for you, and multiply your scholarship search efforts!