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3 Easy Summer Scholarship Strategies for Any Education Level

You shouldn't stop applying for scholarships just because it's summer! Win more money for college by employing these simple search strategies during your break.

For most students, summer is a time to recharge and restore energy from the previous academic year. But it’s also a great time to renew your much needed mental focus and prepare for the upcoming academic year. What many students fail to use their summer for is an engaged pursuit of private scholarships. Students who maximize the summer for their scholarship pursuit can have a tremendous edge and advantage over their peers. Relaxation, vacation, and restoration can all align with a small amount of dedicated time for scholarship application preparation. Here’s how to use your time and energy strategically to increase your potential scholarship success this summer.

1. Seek applications with summer deadlines

After interviewing thousands of students, my research indicates that scholarships aren’t a priority for most students during the summer months. That’s certainly not a surprise—most students prioritize having fun and enjoying time off over thinking about school or paying for college. What does this do statistically for the students who continue their scholarship pursuit? It reduces the number of applicants they’re competing against for awards, making the chances of winning much higher. Scholarships that have deadlines in June, July, or August will statistically have fewer competitors for the awards. Check out a few examples below! 

Summer scholarship opportunities

  • Breakthrough Junior Challenge: This scholarship is open to students worldwide ages 13–18. It requires applicants to explain a big scientific idea with a short film (three-minute maximum runtime). The prize is $250,000 with a deadline of June 25 (this one is awarded every year, so start thinking about next year’s contest!).
  • Lindsay Sale-Tinney Award: This scholarship is in association with the Outdoor Journalist Education Foundation of America (OJEFA). Applicants must be between 12–25 years old and have demonstrated interest in working toward a career in outdoor communications. Awards go up to $750 and the deadline is July 1 every year.
  • CDPAP Department of Edison HHC Educational Scholarship: This $1,000 scholarship is open to students 18 or older. You simply have to write a short essay about what you would do to improve health care. The application states "Don't be afraid to be creative," and the deadline is August 31. 

Related: 4 Ways to Use Your Time Wisely During Summer

2. Adjust your schedule but keep your routine

A smart scholarship pursuit doesn’t have to require a part-time job’s time commitment. Pursuing scholarships should entail a small amount of time invested each week for searching or applying for awards. I recommend 90 minutes spread out over three times a week to identify opportunities and expedite applications. This small investment of time is designed to easily weave into your already established routine. During summer, if you want to reduce that commitment to 45 minutes a week for added relaxation, that’s okay; the key is to not stop your routine completely. It’s harder to restart a habit and a routine that hasn’t been maintained. Strategically, adjust your schedule but keep your routine.

3. Plan and prepare for September scholarship deadlines

Regardless of your education level, starting a new academic year always comes with the adjustment to a new schedule, which obviously requires attention and focus. Once again, the scholarship pursuit is generally not prioritized during the month of September. Recognizing that fewer students statistically will be applying for scholarships during September, a smart scholarship seeker will use the summer to prepare those applications in advance. Not only will you have the required applications done, but you’ll be able to fully focus on your own transition to your new grade when school starts. 

Related: 3 FAQs About Timing in Your Scholarship Search Process

You can (and should!) have fun during the summer, but you can also be smart and strategic. These three strategies will help any scholarship seeker get ahead and stay ahead in their own scholarship pursuit without eating up too much of your fun, relaxation time. 

Start searching for scholarships with upcoming summer deadlines now using 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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