Originally Posted: Sep 22, 2015
Last Updated: Jan 25, 2017
It’s so frustrating when you come across those big money scholarships in all your research—and they’re not even a tiny bit related to you or your areas of expertise. You guys, the struggle is so real. But in the scholarship search, you gotta target the ones that fit you.
Luckily, there are tons of scholarships out there for just about every interest, trait, background, and hobby under the sun. And you definitely want to look for the scholarships in your most specialized interests, because you’ll have a much better chance of winning them. The pool of entries will be smaller, and you’ll be more excited and knowledgeable about the subject. Really, it all comes down to showing how determined and psyched you in your application. Then, you’re golden!
Turn your crafty hobby into money—literally. Image credit: CraftyScrappyHappy
So, how do you figure out what your specialized interests are and then find scholarships that fit them? Let’s break down the process.
1. First, make a list
Write down everything that makes you unique, everything you excel at, and everything you enjoy. Everything that makes you, well, you! Pinpoint categories you wouldn’t mind doing a project on. Is there any sort of homework you actually like to do? Think about the subjects and activities that make you excited. Also think about your possible major. There are many scholarships specific to students pursuing certain careers.
2. Sign up for scholarship sites
The key detail here is that you choose websites that point you to scholarships based on your interests and abilities. Make sure you take the time to fill out all the registration information; don’t skip anything! The more info you give, the more scholarships you’ll get in return. Below are some of my favorites:
- CollegeXpress.com (obviously)
- Discover Student Loans List of Scholarships
Most states have a scholarship site specifically for residents too. Find yours by searching for your state plus “scholarships.” You might also find some here.
3. Simple search
Go straight to your search engine and type in “scholarships for ___!” I am involved in sign language, fashion, cheerleading, and lots of community service. So that’s what I search for! You can search for a sport you play, your favorite school subject, clubs you are in, or just random hobbies you have. Speaking of hobbies, ask the president or other leaders of your group (like a Girl Scout troop leader or volunteer coordinator) if they know of any scholarships related to the organization. You might be surprised! There are scholarships for everything from redheads to students interested in a career in law or automotive work. I have even seen some just for students who radiate pride in America!
4. When applying
Harness your passion and drive and turn it into your very best work. Your scholarship entries should reflect your love for the subject. Make sure you include what career you’re pursuing, why a career in that field is important to you, and how this scholarship will benefit you. My mentor once told me, “You have to make it impossible for them to decline you.” Those words stick with me whenever I need to make myself stand out. Use them to your own benefit!
5. Keep track of deadlines
All of your hard work finding scholarships will be for nothing if you don’t stay organized. Write down all the scholarships you want to apply to. A lot of sites will send you reminders of deadlines that are approaching.
Another thing to keep in mind: you’re never too young or old to start your scholarship search. Most guidelines start at the age of 13 and don’t specify a cutoff age. The only mistake you can make is giving up or not trying! Encourage your friends to join you in the search. You can point each other to scholarships that might suit you and help edit and perfect each other’s entries.
Remember, you’re not alone in your scholarship search. You can always go to a counselor, mentor, or family member to help you out. Just keep the big picture in mind. You deserve to continue learning about what you love, and scholarships will help make that happen for you.