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What is the best approach to find low competition scholarships?

Asked Maplewood, New Jersey

I have noticed that there are literally thousands of scholarship programs out there and there are hundreds that most students would be qualified to apply to.
However, I, like most people, don’t have the time or the energy to apply towards hundreds of scholarships in a year, so I need advice on how to narrow down the list of eligible scholarships to focus on the ones that I have the best chance of winning.

Ideally, I should look for ones that have the least amount of competition; however, in my experience, most scholarship programs either don’t keep track or are unwilling to divulge the number of qualified applicants they receive each year.
Thus, how should I determine if a scholarship has low competition? I assume local ones are most likely less competitive towards national ones. It should be the same situation for scholarships that limit the type of students that can apply.
For example, let’s take a look at these two scholarships:

Scholarship A: Eligible applicants must be undergraduate computer science, computer engineering, and information technology majors with a 3.5 or higher GPA.

Scholarship B: Eligible applicants can be one of the following: high school seniors, undergraduate students, and graduate students who are current or aspiring STEM majors with a 2.0 or higher GPA

Clearly, scholarship A severely limits the type of applicants that are eligible compared to the Scholarship B. Thus, Scholarship A is less competitive than Scholarship B, which means that an applicant fitting Scholarship A’s description would stand a much better chance winning Scholarship A than B.
What other criteria can one use to determine if a scholarship has low competition, and therefore “winnable?”

#scholarships #scholarship #college-scholarships #scholar #financial-aid

1 answer

Jordan’s Answer

Updated San Jose, California

Great question Albert. I'm sorry no one's answered it yet! You hit it right on the nail with you example scholarships! What I did was I applied for scholarships offered in my specific department at my university. That might be the only way to strategize to applying for scholarships with less applicants (increasing your chances of winning!) I recommend looking for those niche scholarships at school that require a specific major and/or other qualification (there was one at my school that was ONLY for students studying abroad) where you know not many people have a chance - compared to general ones open to all students! Also, get familiar with the staff at your school, they might have insights of which scholarships people barely apply for. (Also, get familiar with the staff and the specific staff that chooses scholarship winners! The more familiar they are with you, the more you have advantage of them knowing your story and why you NEED financial help!)

I thought I'd share a few links to other relevant Q&A on CareerVillage.org that should be super helpful for you to read through in regards to scholarships. I've included tips in the "next steps" section below a list of trustworthy sites you should create accounts on if you haven't already (that have good scholarships!). Here are tips that could help you in your preparation of finding and submitting for scholarships:

  1. Dedicate a minimum of 1 hour a day for a few weeks to applying for scholarships and it'll go a long way.
  2. Be thoughtful about your entries, just doing the bare minimum isn't going to land you any scholarships. It's better to spend more time on each entry to ensure it's well thought out than to rush through to try to enter a bunch. Quality over quantity!!
  3. I recommend writing one STELLAR essay. Chances are you'll use it for every scholarship application (potentially only having to make minor edits dependent on what the prompt is). Tell a story that clearly represents who you are and what's important to you. The goal of the essay should be to let the reader in to your life. If you can do that in a genuine and meaningful way you'll be considered, I promise! A couple of ideas: Write about the hardest thing you've had to go through in your life or what makes you so passionate about something. Be sure to include lessons you've learned and what you hope to do with that knowledge/experience later in life.
  4. Spend more time finding scholarships that directly pertain to YOU so it cuts down the competition. Look for scholarships in your local community, or that are just for young women, for example. Know what career path you want to pursue? There are probably dozens of scholarship opportunities that are only for students aspiring to follow a specific career path (e.g. STEM, entertainment, sports, design, etc. etc.)

Relevant Q&A on CareerVillage.org you should read:

What financial support can I find to help me pay for college?

How to stand out when applying for scholarships?

What are the chances of winning scholarships?

This professional recommends the following next steps:

  • Create an account on Cappex and Niche.com
  • Look for scholarships from bigger companies like Coca-Cola and Taco Bell. Oftentimes they won't list on bigger sites and therefore less youth apply.
  • Know what school you're attending? Talk to students who go there to see if they have any insights on how to pay for school/what grants or scholarships to apply for.
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