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by Michelle Showalter

While most scholarship deadlines are still several months away, there are a few with deadlines just around the corner that you definitely don't want to miss out on.

Plus, by starting your scholarship search early, you may be able to breathe a sigh of relief if you win scholarship awards now—before your friends have even started the search process.

From a scholarship that only requires you to take a quiz on sprinkler safety, to an essay contest centered on an Ayn Rand book, you're sure to find a worthwhile scholarship or two in the list below. A handful of these scholarships have lengthy application processes along with their early deadlines, so if you're thinking of applying, get started right away!

[Learn more about college scholarships.]

These scholarship applications are usually due in August:

American Fire Sprinkler Association Second Chance Scholarship ContestThe application process for this scholarship couldn't be easier. All you have to do is read an essay on fire sprinkler safety, fill out the registration form, and then take a short quiz on what you've read. You can even print out the essay and use it as a reference for the quiz. After successfully completing the quiz, you'll be eligible to win one of five $5,000 scholarships.

Coca-Cola All-State Community College Academic Team Program: Not all scholarships are reserved for those who are following the traditional four-year college track of earning a degree. If you're currently enrolled in a community college, you have 48 college credits under your belt, and you've achieved a GPA of at least 3.5, this scholarship is right up your alley. Awards range from $1,000 to $2,000 and there are 350 winners chosen every year.

I Don't Want to Pay for College Scholarship: Cappex.com, a free scholarship search engine open to high school, college, and graduate students, offers several scholarships that couldn't be easier to apply for—including the "I Don't Want to Pay for College Scholarship." Fill out a profile on the site, and you'll have access to all sorts of scholarship information. This $1,000 scholarship is open to anyone with a high school diploma and is awarded multiple times per year, so if you miss this deadline, you can always apply the next time around.

[Read about 5 reasons why scholarships are essential.]

These scholarship applications are usually due in September:

Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest: Here's your chance to win a whopping $10,000 toward your college education, and there's no application involved! All you have to do is read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, then choose one of three essay questions to answer for a chance to win some cash. Applicants are judged on both style and content; the contest is open to high school seniors, undergraduate students and grad students, and 83 people will receive awards ranging from $50 to $10,000.

A GPA Isn't Everything ScholarshipHere's another awesome scholarship from Cappex.com. This scholarship is awarded to students not for getting straight As, but for having a well-rounded student profile—think volunteer work and extracurricular activities. This $1,000 scholarship is awarded to one student every few months, so if you don't win this time, you can always try again next time.

QuestBridge National College Match Program: Every year, QuestBridge helps exceptional low-income high school seniors gain full-ride admission to some of the nation's most selective colleges. Most finalists have come from households earning less than $60,000 a year, and more than 75 percent are in the top 5 percent of their high school class. If you match this description, we highly recommend you apply. Last year, QuestBridge's partner colleges offered admission to 1,000 outstanding low-income students.

Xerox Technical Minority Scholarship: Xerox's Technical Minority Scholarships of $1,000 to $10,000 are awarded to undergraduate or graduate students of African American, Asian, Pacific Island, Native American, Native Alaskan, or Hispanic descent who are studying chemistry, information management, computing and software systems, material science, printing management science, laser optics, physics, or any of the engineering fields (chemical, computer, electrical, imaging, manufacturing, mechanical, optical, or software). Apply and you could be one of the hundreds of students who receive scholarships from Xerox every year.

[See 8 tips for building your own scholarship.]

Get started now if you want to take advantage of these scholarships with August and September deadlines. And if it's too tight of a turnaround for you, there's always October: Scholarship applications due in October include the Siemens Foundation Competition, the Joe Foss Institute Veterans Day Contest, the Future Engineers Scholarship Program, the Gates Cambridge Scholarships, and the Education Matters Scholarship.

Michelle Showalter joined Scholarship America in 2007 and is an alumna of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

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