With thousands of scholarships available, deciding which college scholarships to apply for can be a challenge. Some family and friends will tell you to apply for anything and everything you could be eligible for.

However, realistically there isn’t enough time for anyone to do this. Even if you spent your entire day just finding such scholarships and applying for them, you would run out of time to get to all of them before their deadlines. Also, you need to keep in mind that there may be hundreds, if not thousands, of students applying for those same scholarships. So, how do you beat the odds?

To keep yourself from going crazy or wasting your valuable time, you need to develop a good system to follow. You will need to be objective, select some key elements for your evaluation, and prioritize your options. Let’s take a look at some key elements that can help you choose the best college scholarships to apply for and beat the competition.

You may also want to read: How to Submit a Winning Scholarship Application

Complex Scholarships Applications = Stand Out Above the Crowd

Select scholarships that will play to your strengths. The level of complexity and skills involved with any college scholarship application can work for you or it can work against you. If there is a great deal of writing and personal stories to cover, not everyone will do a good job with it.


If you have plenty of strengths in this area, then you can definitely stand out above the crowd. If you are a creative student or inventor, then select those scholarships that mainly require you to submit your prototypes and creations.

If you speak other languages, try to select scholarships that require you to use those languages. Always try to play to your strengths and rise above the competition.

Stricter Scholarship Guidelines = Better Odds in Your Favor

Warning! Competition Ahead

Choose scholarships that have stricter guidelines. I know, you must be thinking, “But those will be more difficult to get…” I hear you, but let me explain.

The reality is you will find plenty of college scholarships with loose and broad guidelines out there. This means that anyone under the sun is really eligible to apply for them. While it is true that some applicants will get these types of scholarships, you should rank these fairly low on your list. The sheer volume of competition could prevent you from having a good shot.

Instead, you want to focus your attention on those college scholarships that have stricter guidelines. As a result, fewer people will apply for them.

While you may find that there is more money with national college scholarships, there are also more people that will apply for them. When you go with regional, subject, or skills-based scholarships, you significantly reduce the amount of competition you have to contend with.

Small Money Awards = Less Competition for Scholarships

Prioritize Scholarships with Average and Smaller Awards. Find out what the dollar amount is going to be should you win a college scholarship. The money may not be enough for you to justify the process.

However, don’t just rush to complete applications for high-dollar college scholarships. Most people will do just that, increasing the number of applications. Even if you only get $1,000 or less with an award, it can add up quickly if you win several of them.

Find out about any additional awards that may be offered when you apply for a college scholarship. There may be one or two top winners that get more than the rest. Yet, they may also offer numerous smaller financial awards to other applicants as well.

Relaxed Deadlines = Stronger Scholarship Applications

Try to take a close look at the deadlines. If they are far enough away, you can relax about them, and start working on a strong scholarship application. If you will have to drop everything else you have on your plate to get the application done on time, you may want to reconsider doing so.

You may not have all the time you need to complete a successful application with top recommendations, an excellent essay, or school transcripts. The date that the winners will be announced is another aspect to consider. You do want to make sure you would be able to get the funds before your classes start.

Final Thoughts

By paying close attention to all of these key elements, you will have a better idea of which scholarships you should apply for, and which you should pass up. Selecting the right scholarships for you will increase your chances of winning them and funding your future.

You may also want to read: Top 10 Tuition-Free Colleges in the USA

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