Your Quick Mid-Year Scholarship Search Checklist

You're halfway through the school year, but there's still a lot to be done. Make sure you're on track in your scholarship search with this checklist.

The start of a new year is also the unofficial halfway point of the academic year. This is the time when more students at every education level begin to focus more on their scholarship pursuits. With more students conducting the scholarship search, competition increases for awards with deadlines in January through June. This is an important time to focus your attention on how to work smarter in your process to expedite scholarship applications more quickly. With the end of the academic year only months away, this is the time to use organizational tools like the scholarship search checklist below.

Scholarship search checklist

  • Spend time expanding your potential scholarship search categories by money mapping any large or small categories related to your past accomplishments and future goals. For example, a female student who has the goal of working as an electrical engineer should include Engineering, women in STEM, and STEM keywords in her scholarship search criteria. If she only searches for scholarships focused on electrical engineering, the student will miss potential opportunities. Expand your search and continue to revisit your money-mapped personal search engine list.
  • Identify all ready-to-go materials that you can access for scholarship applications. Ready-to-go materials includes all past papers, essays, projects, or poems you’ve done in the past three years. If you’re a graduate student, your ready-to-go material can extend to the past five to 10 years. Not all scholarships you pursue have to directly relate to your future profession. A Finance student can apply for poetry scholarships; a Theatre student can apply for graphic design scholarships; a Pre-med student can apply for history-related scholarships. It’s essential that you compile a list of your ready-to-go materials and identify any themes or subjects connected to them. For example, if you wrote a paper about the Civil War and discussed Abraham Lincoln in it, search for scholarships related to each of them. You could use part of your essay in your cover letter for the Civil War Institute Summer Conference Scholarship Program. Searching for scholarships related to your ready-to-go materials can help you expedite applications quickly, as you’ve already spent the time and energy in the past creating them.
  • Thoroughly research local scholarships. This is by far the most important action to do at the mid-school-year point. Strategically, every scholarship seeker should highly prioritize local scholarships. Awards offered by local companies, organizations, individuals, clubs, and foundations with geographic eligibility restrictions should be researched thoroughly. Learning more about local awards is a smart use of your time, as competition for these awards will be restricted to your high school, college campus, state, city, or even county. Strive to learn more about these awards by reaching out to the scholarship committees to ask what they’re looking for in an ideal candidate. The conversation alone will help increase your visibility to decision makers. It may also provide valuable information on how you can approach your application.

Related: Why the Scholarship Search Matters, Plus Quick Tips and Tricks

Private scholarships are offered year-round, so it’s never too late to start or amp up your search. Every week of the year brings new scholarship deadlines from scholarship sources. As you look ahead to the second half of the academic year, be sure to check these items off your to-do list, and you’ll be starting the new year as a focused scholarship seeker with a clear mission.

Keep yourself organized in your scholarship search by using our Scholarship Search Spreadsheet Template! 

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


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 for more information, and follow Jean on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Farrah Macci

Farrah Macci

High School Class of 2016

CollegeXpress has helped me in many ways. For one, online searches are more organized and refined by filtering scholarships through by my personal and academic interests. Due to this, it has made searching for colleges and scholarships significantly less stressful. As a student, life can already get stressful pretty quickly. For me, it’s been helpful to utilize CollegeXpress since it keeps all of my searches and likes together, so I don’t have to branch out on multiple websites just to explore scholarship options.

Asia Stockdale

Asia Stockdale

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me overcome a huge hurdle. Because of the small town I live in, I felt like I would never achieve more. I felt like I could never go beyond because of costs. I feared I wouldn’t be able to find scholarships. I had no idea of where to start. With CollegeXpress, I easily found scholarships—they came to me. It was a helper, and I was instantly matched with opportunities to go above and beyond educationally.

Rayan Hamdan

Rayan Hamdan

High School Student

I joined CollegeXpress just a few months ago. I had been struggling with severe anxiety, causing me to not be able to tour schools and make sure a college would be perfect for me. I came across CollegeXpress one day when I was searching for colleges online, and it completely changed the game. I was easily able to choose colleges that would suit me, and I also entered a few giveaways! Thank you so much!

Sadie Hartmann

Sadie Hartmann

High School Class of 2021

I'm a senior in high school, and CollegeXpress has helped me in so many ways this year in trying to navigate the process of deciding and committing to a university. The COVID-19 Student Resource Center has helped me many times with the most up-to-date and accurate information, along with financial aid and student life [advice]. During these uncertain times, CollegeXpress has been a great recourse to relieve the stress as a senior. Along with the COVID-19 Student Resource Center, I'm constantly using the extremely helpful tools off the site to aid me during this stressful process. Tools like the lists and rankings of universities have been the most beneficial. I've also used the site to receive expert advice on topics like financial aid. Finally, CollegeXpress has helped me easily apply for several scholarships. I'm thankful to be given the chance to win a scholarship to lessen the burden of my college debt.

Rose Kearsley

Rose Kearsley

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has seriously helped me out a lot, especially when it comes to scholarships and studying for tests like the ACT. I also really love the financial help. It’s a little harder to pay because I live with a family of eight, so any help is appreciated. Thanks for this opportunity!

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Regis University

Denver, CO

Colorado State University

Fort Collins, CO

Transylvania University

Lexington, KY