At mile 20, I thought I was dead. At mile 22, I wished I was dead.
At mile 24, I knew I was dead.
At mile 26.2, I realized I had become too tough to kill.
I’ve learned that finishing a marathon isn’t just an athletic achievement.
It’s a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible.
–John Hanc, running writer
There will be days you don’t think you can run a marathon.
There will be a lifetime of knowing you have.
Earning a scholarship is a lot like running a marathon: you start with a dream, create a plan, prepare like crazy, and run the race. It takes time, patience, determination, and a will to accomplish something great. Neither are easy, but both are possible. And anyone can do it!
I know a little bit about running and training. I’m definitely not a pro, but over the past 11 years, I have logged hundreds and hundreds of running miles. I’ve completed 3 marathons, 4 Ragnar Relays, 3 half-marathons, a 10 mile race, and lots and lots of 5Ks. I have run in extreme heat, cold, rain, and perfect weather. I have run up and down canyons, on paved and gravel roads, and across many trails. I have run alone, with running friends, and always with my dog. I’ve run through a stress fracture, plantar faciitis, and hip and back and knee pain. I’ve run through so many emotional states: joy, total contentment, anxiety, depression, heart-wrenching sorrow, and total discouragement. And I’ve kept going so many times when I just wanted to stop. Forever.
You might feel like that when you think about college and scholarships…like you never want to start, or you just want to stop. Forever.
Don’t. Just start…Just keep going…Just finish!
Because running a marathon, and earning a scholarship isn’t just about what you get when you cross the finish line. It’s about what you learn along the way, and the person that you become. It’s about fulfilling dreams and accomplishing something big. But most of all, it’s about opening up a whole world of endless possibilities.
EARNING SCHOLARSHIPS AS SENIORS
Seniors: The end is in sight! This is the year that all of your hard work pays off. But it is also a year to continue your hard work and preparation. You will need to spend a lot of time this year filling out all kinds of applications: college, scholarships, jobs, housing, etc. Make sure you set aside time each week to work on your applications, put together a great scholarship portfolio, and gather all the documents you will need. This process will be a lot less stressful if you work consistently on one thing at a time. Make a plan, create a schedule, and follow through.
This is what you need to do right now:
- Review the Earn $ Section for Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors and make sure you have completed and/or are working on everything on the list.
- Attend your Senior CCR and review your graduation and college plan with your counselor and parent(s).
- Choose challenging classes like Honors, AP, and Concurrent Enrollment, but choose wisely. If you struggled for a good grade in an honors class, don’t sign up for the AP class. Challenge yourself, but know your limits.
- Get good grades! Colleges can and will rescind offers to students who slack off. Your admission is contingent upon a consistent academic performance on the final transcript. Keep up the good work!
- Make sure you follow this website and the links for Facebook, Twitter, and Remind 101. The majority of scholarships are for seniors, but if you never search for them, than you will never know what they are. I add several new scholarships every week, so make sure you check often.
- Retake the ACT (SAT or subject tests) if needed. The September or October test dates are often the last chance you’ll get before early action or early decision deadlines.
- Here is a month by month approach to college and scholarship applications:
- SEPTEMBER: Learn the high school procedure for obtaining teacher recommendations and requesting that your transcripts be sent to colleges. Complete appropriate forms and secure two teacher recommendations. Set a goal to have your college essays completed by Labor Day. Begin applying for scholarships.
- SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER: Review your college list with a counselor and your parents. Decide whether to apply for priority admission dates if offered. Continue applying for scholarships.
- OCTOBER-DECEMBER: Keep track of admission deadlines and fill out each application carefully. Most Utah schools will use your college application as an application for merit scholarships as well. Make sure they are great! Edit your essays one more time (make sure you have had at least two great writers proofread your essays). Officially send your ACT or SAT scores with each submitted application, and then check that each college received all records from your high school. Continue applying for scholarships!
- BY FEBRUARY: If you are not submitting your applications for priority admission, make sure you know the dates for final admission and get those applications in early. A month from the date you submitted your application, call the colleges and confirm that it is complete. Continue applying for scholarships. Be aware of both leadership and diversity scholarships offered at the different colleges. They will have different deadlines and different requirements than the admission and merit scholarship deadlines. Continue applying for scholarships!
- FEBRUARY 1: Many colleges require FAFSA forms to be turned in by February. Again, earlier is better.
- MARCH/APRIL: Decisions arrive. Stay calm. Breathe. Most local scholarships become available in the Spring. Besides scholarships directly from the colleges, these are going to be your best bet. The applications are generally easier and there is a lot less competition. Make sure you apply for every local scholarship for which you are eligible.
- APRIL: Compare the admission and scholarship awards you’ve received. If you need to, visit the campuses again, talk with alumni, or attend an accepted student reception. Continue applying for scholarships.
- MAY: Make your college decision official by sending in your deposit. Also, make sure you submit any final paperwork for admissions and scholarships, and know what you need to do to receive any local scholarships you’ve won. If you are planning on serving a LDS mission right away, notify the college of your decision so they can defer your admissions and scholarships.
YOU’VE COMPLETED THE SCHOLARSHIP MARATHON.
NOW MOVE ON TO COLLEGE WITH JOY AND CONFIDENCE.
AND REMEMBER THE LESSONS YOU’VE LEARNED.
FOR THIS IS JUST THE FIRST OF MANY LIFE MARATHONS.
RUN THEM WELL…AND RUN THEM WITH YOUR WHOLE HEART.
*Some information from Ned Johnson’s article: A To-Do List for Your College Search, published in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges of 2013.