College is one of the best long-term investments one can make. Not only do students who graduate usually end up increasing their earning potential, but they also enrich their lives in ways that are much harder to calculate. College offers you a career, yes, but also an education, a chance to focus on improving yourself and learning a trade from experts.
That’s why getting accepted to college is usually a cause for celebration — it’s the beginning of an exciting chapter, a first step on what will likely be a bright and beautiful future.
But with that celebration comes a realization: College can be expensive, and you have to find a way to pay for it. Thankfully, many colleges offer financial guidance, making sure you get access to the grants or loans for which you’re eligible, and that can make a significant difference. Most students, no matter the institution they elect to attend, will incur a certain amount of debt due their student loans.
That’s why many financial aid counselors will encourage new students to pursue any and all means possible to limit reliance on student loans. In other words, your financial aid counselor may ask you if there’s anything you can possibly do to increase the amount of your tuition paid for in other ways. Many students feel quite at a loss when posed with such a question.
The answer, however, can be quite simple: scholarships.
Many students don’t consider scholarships a viable way to help with tuition because they buy into the notion that scholarships are quite exclusive, only for the straight-A students who also excel at athletics and extracurricular activities. The truth, thankfully, is quite different. In fact, there are many scholarships that any average joe can obtain even if you don’t want to write an essay for it. These no essay scholarships are winnable by a wide variety of students.
Niche Scholarships and Random Scholarships
Indeed, today’s scholarship landscape is quite diverse, and almost any student can find a “niche” scholarship that plays to his or her strengths. Many corporations and companies offer scholarships in their field of operations.
For example, 3M offers scholarships for students at vocational and community colleges, which align with 3M’s innovation and manufacturing emphasis. This kind of synergy between companies and educational institutions is a great help with financing your education because, in essence, everybody wins.
There are some scholarships that are exceptionally popular — and while those scholarships may pay out big, the odds might not be in your favor. You might be better off, and collect a larger contribution to your education, by applying for more scholarships that offer a smaller payout, as there’s likely to be less competition for these scholarships.
To give you an idea of what’s out there, let’s take a look at 12 individual scholarships. These are real scholarships you can sign up to win. Scholarships generally have rotating eligibility windows, so even if you’ve missed the current window, make sure to keep an eye out for more openings in the future.
How to Get a Scholarship
When it comes to how to get a scholarship, sometimes the best strategy is to jump right in. Let’s take a look at 10 scholarships you can apply for today.
1. Common Knowledge Scholarship: Common Knowledge Scholarship Foundation
This scholarship is perfect for anyone who passes the evenings watching Jeopardy. In fact, this scholarship is almost more like a fun quiz of general knowledge questions than it is like writing an essay — indeed, no essay writing is involved in this scholarship application. Essentially, candidates are required to answer common knowledge questions, along the lines of “On what date did the United States enter World War II?”
This scholarship is great because it rewards that kind of broad, common knowledge. The payout is not enormous — only a $100 Amazon gift card. But that could be a week or two of meals and groceries. When it comes to scholarships, every dollar counts.
To find out more about the Common Knowledge Scholarship, visit the official site.
2. Safer Brand “Help Your Future Grow” Essay Scholarship
Many companies offer smaller scholarships and since not many usually know about them you have a good chance of winning. This particular $500 scholarship is offered twice a year, every year. Only requirement is that you have to be going to a U.S. college or other post-secondary education in your following semester. That means regardless of your major, age or year you can apply!
To apply, check out the Safer Brand scholarship page for a list of topics to write your essay about and then send it in before the deadline to SaferScholarship@woodstream.com. It really is that easy! To find more of these smaller scholarships, use the search query:
3. Wells Fargo College Steps Sweepstakes
This scholarship program is very similar to the US Bank Scholarship Program, so it gives you another option.
To find out more about the Wells Fargo College Steps Sweepstakes, visit the official site.
4. Zinch Weekly Scholarship: Chegg/Zinch
Sometimes all you need to get a scholarship is a couple of sentences and a little persistence. That’s the case with this Zinch scholarship, which is offered on a weekly basis. Winners are chosen based on their two-to-three-sentence answer to a weekly question. The question changes every week, so if you didn’t win this time, don’t worry. There’s always next week.
For only a couple sentences worth of work, the payout for this scholarship is pretty nice: $1000 towards your education. That means even if you spend a couple of hours perfecting your sentences, you’re still making $500/hr.
To find out more about the Zinch Weekly Scholarship, visit the official site. That is also where you can enter to win this scholarship.
5. 2015 Love YourBody Poster Scholarship: NOW Foundation
Many students who are looking at going to college today are specifically looking for degrees in graphic design, illustration or other artistic fields. This is a great opportunity for those students. In this content, students are to design a poster that expands our definition of beauty beyond any particular body type. The posters can be composed of a wide range of artistic elements, and therefore, this scholarship can appeal to a wide range of prospective college students.
The payout for this scholarship is broken up into categories. The prize for high school students is $150, while the prize for a student who is already an undergrad is $200. Even better, the winning entry will be distributed by the NOW Foundation as part of its Love Your Body campaign.
To find out more about the Love Your Body Poster Scholarship, including the technical parameters of the project, visit the official site.
6. The Christophers 25th Annual Poster Contest for Students
This contest is very similar to the Body Poster Scholarship, but emphasizes different themes.
To find out more about the Christophers 25th Annual Poster Contest for Students, visit the official site.
7. Scholarship Zone Scholarship: Scholarship Zone
Sometimes it’s nice to get paid for something you would be doing anyway. As a high school student looking into various prospective colleges, you’re likely doing an intense amount of research and using some online tools to help with that research.
These online tools almost always require registration:
- Your name
- Your address
- Your phone number
- Your email address
- Your birthdate
It can be a lot of work. Scholarship Zone is an online tool that rewards you for this registration by creating a profile and automatically entering you into a scholarship contest.
With a payout of $10,000, your chances of winning are not as high as some of the other scholarships on this list. But you’re getting a chance to win for doing something you would do anyway, so you can only benefit from this scholarship.
To find out more about the Scholarship Zone, visit the official site.
8. Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku Competition: Haiku Society of America
A haiku is a deceptively simple poem: five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third. They’re wonderful poems because they make for potent imagery and because newcomers can create with the best of them.
So if you’re a creative writer, or if you have some creative impulses, this might be a great way to help finance your college career. The haiku you submit for this scholarship must be an original composition, not published previously anywhere. But, in theory, you could receive a college scholarship by writing three lines of poetry.
The payout for this scholarship is pretty low, only $50 per poem. But you can submit up to three poems, and six winning poems are chosen every year, meaning in theory you could win up to $150.
To find out more about the Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku Competition, visit the official site.
9. What Would You Change Scholarship Slam
If you like poetry, there’s more where that came from with the What Would You Change Scholarship Slam, another poetry contest.
To find out more about the What Would You Change Scholarship Slam, visit the official site.
10. Starfleet Scholarship: International Star Trek Fan Association, Inc.
If you’ve been a member of Starfleet for over a year, you’re eligible for a scholarship. In this case, Starfleet is a Star Trek fan organization.
But it’s open to any and all who enjoy Star Trek, so if you’ve got a year to plan, this could be a great opportunity. More importantly, it just goes to show that, no matter what your interest is, there is likely a scholarship out there for you.
In other words, play to your strengths and find something you love. You’ll have a much better chance of actually getting a scholarship if you’re passionate about the subject matter.
The Starfleet Scholarship pays out up to $1,000, and is given based on your field. There’s one for engineering, one for art, and so on.
To find out more about the Starfleet Scholarship, visit the official site.
11. U.S. Bank Scholarship Program: U.S. Bank
Because college is a chance for you to learn how to learn, it’s nice when a scholarship also takes the time to teach you something. To compete for this scholarship, you simply must fill out an application, and then you must complete eight “Financial Genius for Life” learning modules. Essentially, these modules are designed to teach you how to handle your finances, and it can’t be stressed enough how important such skills are in the long run. This scholarship is a real win-win.
The U.S. Bank Scholarship program offers payouts anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000. They also offer multiple scholarships, so there isn’t just one and only one winner.
To find out more about the U.S. Bank Scholarship Program, visit the official site.
12. Mosquito and Money Scholarship
It’s important to read the directions before discounting a scholarship just on the name. This $500 scholarship offered my Mosquito Magnet is for any student who will be pursuing college in their next semester. It’s offered twice year, every year. To apply write an essay on one of the topics listed on their scholarship page and email it to MosquitoMagnetScholarship@gmail.com before the deadline. Be sure to read all the directions to make sure you include all the information they need to make the decision and contact you if you win.
Scholarships from Groups You’re Connected To
It might seem silly, at first glance, to include a scholarship from a Star Trek fan organization. But that inclusion is made to emphasize a point: there’s a scholarship out there for everyone. One of the best ways to find scholarships is to go through organizations or groups of which you’re already a member. And that’s not only limited to your interests or passions.
Any part of your identity is a great place to start digging into scholarships.
- If you identify as Native American, there are scholarships designed specifically for you.
- If you are African-American, there are also scholarships based on that.
- There are many scholarships for women pursuing careers in the STEM or criminal justice fields.
- If you come from an area of poverty or if you cope with a learning disability such as dyslexia, there are scholarships out there for you.
To be sure, none of these scholarships are going to pay for your college education on their own. That’s not their intent. Many scholarships will pay out $1000 or less. But when you add them up, and if you earn enough of them, you can make a significant dent in your tuition bills.
How to Find More Scholarships
It’s great that all of these different scholarships are out there, but how can you actually find them?
Many companies will offer scholarships on their website or an .edu site. Knowing how to search the web in an efficient, organized way will help you find the best scholarships. Searching the Internet for these scholarships all starts at one place: Google. Of course, you have to be thoughtful with Google, just as you would be with any tool. If you type in “scholarship,” you’re likely to get a lot of unhelpful information.
But if you enact a more specific search, you’re likely to get better results. Try searching for the name of a large company, or even a smaller local company, followed by the word “scholarship.”
For example, you could search for “General Mills scholarship” or “Walmart scholarship.” This is likely to give you much better results. You could also search for your areas of interest, such as “photography scholarship.” Not every search will be a success, but overall your results will be more specific and, therefore, more useful.
To make sure you don’t spend a lot of time looking at expired scholarships, you can even refine your search by date. Under search tools tab, simply click the “Any Time” drop down menu and select a more appropriate date, from the past month to the past 24 hours.
Don’t forget to look on your college’s website where many companies post small and relatively easy to win scholarships.
Getting Started on Your College Education
Finding relatively easy scholarships for high school seniors can be somewhat time consuming, but in the end, even filling out random scholarships increases your chances of helping to pay for college. If you spend an hour filling out an application form and win a $1000 scholarship — you’ve just made $1000 an hour!
Even if it takes you several weeks to get good news back from scholarships, if you put the work in and select your scholarships wisely, it’s likely you’ll see a good return on your investment of time. Remember that, when it comes to paying for college, every little bit helps.
The trick of how to get scholarships comes down to one basic, simple thing: persistence. Combine that with a scoop of motivation and you’ll soon find yourself swimming in scholarship possibilities. The Internet makes that easier than ever.
And it’s never too early to start thinking about how you’re going to pay for college. No matter how far off that conversation with a financial aid advisor might be, it won’t hurt to start looking for scholarships.
Preparing for college can also mean gathering a lot of information. To stay up to date with great information from Vista College, sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss out on insights and facts about the college experience.