3 Myths You Should Know About Creative Scholarships

Creative scholarships are a great and often unutilized resource for paying for college. Here are three things you probably assume about them that aren't true.

Private scholarships from companies, organizations, individuals, and foundations are created to honor, acknowledge, and award any criteria they choose. It’s their money—they get to decide what the scholarship will be for and who they’ll award it to. Most scholarships from private sources relate to impact and are awarded based on criteria that aligns with a company or organization’s mission.

Despite the fact that scholarships are awarded for many topics and reasons, students often have tunnel vision when it comes to their scholarship pursuits. I refer to this as pursuing with “scholarship blinders”; examples include when students only search for scholarships related to:

  • GPA or merit;
  • Academic major or career pursuit;
  • Extracurricular activities such as sports and clubs;
  • Community service; and
  • Leadership.

Of course, there are private scholarships for these popular categories, but limiting your search with only this criteria can short-change a student in the number of scholarship opportunities they actually qualify for. This is especially true with creative scholarships. There are three common myths students often believe about these types of awards. Regardless of your future academic pursuit, knowing the truth about creative scholarships can expand your scholarship search and potential award opportunities exponentially.

Myth #1: “I have to major in Art to apply for an art scholarship”

As with all academic majors, there are scholarships related to specific career fields, but unless it’s specified in the eligibility information for the scholarship, it’s open to all academic majors. Therefore, a student pursuing Business can apply also to a scholarship related to art, film, graphic design, or any other creative talent.

Example: The CARiD Scholarship: This scholarship is open to US students aged 16–20 who are currently enrolled in post-secondary education. Applicants must submit a photo inspired by any aspect of the automotive industry. The award is $1,000, and the deadlines are April 30 and October 31. This scholarship doesn’t require the applicant to be pursuing photography. A student who’s studying or interested in any academic field can submit a photo and be considered for the award. 

Related: How to Expand Your Reach and Find Scholarships in Hidden Places 

Myth #2: “I don’t have time to create something for an application”

Creative scholarships are excellent opportunities to use your “ready-to-go materials.” These include any past assignments you completed for previous courses or projects, such as papers, presentations, essays, poems, or artwork you’ve saved and have quick access to. This absolutely includes creative and artistic assignments from art, design, and music classes.

Example: International Documentary Photography Scholarship: This scholarship is open to undergraduate and graduate students worldwide regardless of their academic major. It’s intended to encourage personal involvement in social issues and promote socially conscious documentary photography. The award will be mailed to the recipient in the form of a bank check for $1,000, and the deadline is January 1. With this scholarship, a student could submit an original photo they took anytime and have saved on their phone or computer. Applying with ready-to-go materials can be a huge time saver and dramatically increase the number of scholarships a student is able to expedite.  

Myth #3: “Creative scholarships are only for high school seniors and current college students”

Many creative scholarships exist for younger students, because creativity is relatable for all ages. And most scholarships allow underclassmen to win and hold the money for their future education.

Example: We the Future Contest: This is a scholarship from Constituting America. There are various categories of scholarships for students as young as age five up to students over the age of 65. Awards go up to $2,000, and all have deadlines of September 17. Contests with monetary prizes include:

  • Students ages 5–­12 in grades K­­–5 can submit a poem or a holiday card as part of their application for an award of $100.
  • Students ages 11–15 in grades 6–8 must submit an essay, STEM project, song, or PSA for an award of $200.
  • Students ages 14–19 in grades 9–12 must submit an essay, STEM project, song, film, or PSA for a chance at a $1,000 award.
  • Undergraduate students ages 17–24 with 12 or more credit hours can submit a speech, STEM project, song, film, or PSA to try to win an award of $2,000.
  • Students age 18 or older in graduate or law school can submit a short film or speech for an award of $2,000.
  • K–12 teachers can submit a lesson plan that addresses the US Constitution for a chance to win an award of $1,000. 

Related: Ultimate Scholarship Guide: Searching for Scholarships

Students who strive to reduce their college costs with scholarships should make creative scholarships an essential component of their expanded list of categories to pursue. Just because you’re not pursuing an artistic field as your career doesn’t mean your creative pursuits aren’t worth recognizing and utilizing. So get out there and find creative scholarships to help you pay for college!

Start your search for creative scholarships right here on CollegeXpress with our Scholarship Search tool.

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About Jean O'Toole

Jean O’Toole is an educational consultant and author of the bestselling book Scholarship Strategies: Finding and Winning the Money You Need. Over the past 15 years, she has helped tens of thousands of students in the United States. Individuals collectively have been awarded millions of dollars by applying Jean’s scholarship strategies. In 2008, Jean co-founded Connections101, a company specializing in providing motivational tools for scholarship searching. It is her goal to empower students to design their paths to their future without college debt. Visit Connections101.com for more information, and follow Jean on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

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