I admire your proactive question! Your desire to prepare can't come too early. "Chance favors the prepared mind."-Louis Pasteur. Also, "...most people get ahead during the time that others waste."-Henry Ford.
Have you gotten light backlash from your peers for your desire to prepare early for college? Imagine your graduation. How proud & amazed will you and your family will be when your school calls your name and announces you have been awarded $250,000, maybe $400,000+ in grants and scholarships! What you don't use, goes straight into your pocket in the form of refunds! (Save, don't blow those!!) And all because you (wisely) started in your freshman year! Those who don't WON'T reap those BIG benefits. Check out the extra steps section below. And here's some tips:
1) Keeping a dedicated binder (digital is best) for your scholarship and grant inquiries and applications is a must! These are perfect for students like you who are starting early, don't want to waste time repeating work you've already done (like looking things up more than once, etc.), and aim to get college paid for without being straddled with student debt. If it's in Microsoft Teams or GoogleDocs, your can share it with your family so they can be proud of your progress, keep you motivated, & maybe give you new ideas. Finally, ONLY when you know what's out there can you go GET IT!
2) Merit scholarships are sort of based off what you've done. Consistent volunteerism can make you a preferred applicant for scholarships AND jobs, even just a few hours per week can get you noticed not to mention build ypur resume! Opportunities could exist at a local animal/homeless/women's shelter, hospital, church mission trips, thrift store, workforce training/senior/veterans center, YMCA, Boys & Girls Club, and so on. Plus, many scholarships require a letter (or 2) of recommendation. Your volunteerism can help you network to have lots of "Recommenders" more than willing to wrote a letter for you.
3) Some local credit unions will offer small ($1,000-$3,000) scholarships for account holders or their immediate family (like the child of an account holder). Makes for an easy, almost prequalified book fund.
4) Some scholarships are specific to experience, subject-of-study or segments of the population such as bilingual, daughter/son of a veteran/police officer/fireman, 3.7-4.0+ GPA students, and so many more. Shadowing programs, temp agency summer jobs, internships (paid & unpaid), mission trips, and volunteerism can help you explore many if not all of your interests with an additional benefit of possibly helping you become a preferred scholarship applicant at the same time.
5) Some will require you to write an essay. Don't push these aside! They are easy ways to accumulate small awards $250-2,000 or more, & those REALLY add up! Be sure to use Grammerly or some other saavy grammar-checker for that clear, concise, winning essay entry! Word's spell checker is simply insufficient these days.
Mark Caine once said, "The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself." Interpretation? You could read that as start now to succeed because you won't be in high school forever. In adulthood, you should have 5-year plans to stay on-track with your goals. Seeing beyond the next 3.25 years of HS to plan ahead ensures your persistence will prevail & will teach you this "forward thinking" method if go accomplishment early.
More importantly, stacking money in the form of scholarships and grants is a surefire way to get yourself as educated as you want to be! To make that money count EVEN more, check out your local college(s)' jobs posting page when your in the last half of your Senior year. Many colleges off DEEP tuition discounts to their full-time workers. (Mine is 90% free!!) If 50-90% of your tuition is free PLUS you have all that scholarships & grant $$$, you'll be an unstoppable, self-made young woman! And who can argue with that?!? Save those refunds and buy yourself your own car or house. Always keep in mind those next few years ahead.
"The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today."-H. Jackson Brown Jr.
"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."-Benjamin Franklin (A great quote for those naysayers!) Best of luck ma'am!!
Cheri recommends the following next steps:
Let’s go back to you saying you’re a freshman. Brilliant! Set up an e-mail account JUST for scholarships.
Do NOT use your daily e-mail, if you have one, and do NOT use one that is provided by your school. They like to shut those down once kids graduate. I can't put links in...but...You can look at scholarships dote com or fastweb dote com. Setting accounts up there can loop you in to available scholarships, but the “cost” is some junk mail. And if you use a daily e-mail account, the likelihood of you opting to block/delete increases. Create an e-mail address for that sole purpose. Go in once a week and scrub through it.
NEVER pay to apply for a scholarship. Also, NEVER pay to have someone help you fill out a FAFSA form. The acronym FAFSA…the first “F” stands for FREE. I’ll get off my soap-box now.
Please also focus on standardized-testing. Junior year, typically. My high school back in 19mumblemumble…they had a course for ACT where you could pay $20 and do a pre-test and a post-test. My score went up by three points. Having said that, there’s this thing called the Internet now…
I wish you the best of luck. Just make sure when it’s time to apply for college that your admissions counselor knows everything. If you were in drama club, if you have a Phi Theta Kappa membership. Every nuance can affect your aid.
You got this!
If you are looking for scholarships for college, most of them do not accept applicants unless they are in junior or senior year of high school. That being said, you can definitely start looking at potential scholarships and what they require so that you can start working towards your application. For example, many scholarships require a certain number of honors or AP classes, leadership positions in certain clubs, portfolios if you're looking into the arts, and various other experiences. This is a great website to get started on research:
You're a bit early. Junior year is best. BUT, I applaud your early interest, as this is the perfect time to prepare. I encourage you to focus on preparing yourself for the process. That means excellent grades, try for honors courses, ensure some diversity in your school experiences, seek outside activities where you can volunteer on your own to show your initiative. Also, do web searches on scholarship programs and see if you can schedule an appointment with HS guidance counselor for some early advice or various programs that fund college expenses for which you may be eligible. In summary, just focus on doing your best. You may also find you are eligible to visit some open houses at colleges at end of sophomore year, and that will also be a time to gather more knowledge on the entire college entrance experience. Good luck to you in your pursuits.