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! 

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


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Yuhlani Patterson

Yuhlani Patterson

High School Student

CollegeXpress has helped me find so many scholarships that fit me. They match me to colleges I have specific interest in to make searching for colleges way easier and more efficient. CollegeXpress refers me to schools that have my major of interest and backup schools if I want to change my mind. CollegeXpress also gives out their own scholarships, so you have even more of a chance at gaining multiple scholarships. This website has helped me de-stress from the pressure of not being able to afford college, [of finding] what schools are right for me, and how to find easy access to scholarships that most people never knew existed.

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Jeff Parsons


Thank you so much for this valuable information about these opportunities. I truly appreciate the CollegeXpress communications and use them to keep my high school seniors informed about their opportunities!

Rhiannon Teeter

Rhiannon Teeter

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2012

I have spent a lot of time aggressively searching for scholarships. It was a long and frustrating process until I found the CollegeXpress network. This site made my search so much easier. With the simple check of a few boxes, the site sorted out scholarships I was eligible for and led me directly to the correct websites. Winning this scholarship has definitely given me and my family some financial relief, and CollegeXpress has allowed me to improve my chances of winning further financial aid. Thank you so much!

Heaven Johnson

Heaven Johnson

Back to School Scholarship Winner, High School Class of 2023

I’d like to thank everyone on the CollegeXpress team for their generosity. Not only have I been awarded this scholarship, but CollegeXpress makes it easier to apply and gives amazing tips for schools and scholarships. I am extremely grateful as this will help with my schooling and allow me to be able to enter into the field I’ve been dreaming of all my life. 



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