How to Determine if a Scholarship is Worth Your Time and Effort

Is this scholarship worth your time and effort?As a senior in high school, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. Between pep rallies, acceptance letters, anxiously checking the mailbox, ceremonies, graduation parties, crying parents, plans for the summer, and nerves for the upcoming fall semester of college, you’ve got a lot on your plate. Without a doubt, it’s best to decide what’s worth your time and effort.

To be honest, there’s rarely a time in life when it would be beneficial to not use your time wisely, but senior year is such a blur that it’s extra important. Odds are good that you’ll have a good idea of where you want to go—or will be going—to school, and usually, all that’s left is financial stuff, like applying for aid and scholarships for high school seniors. So, how do you figure out which scholarships are a waste of time and which ones you should put the work into?

What are you looking for?

Like most things in life, there’s no easy answer. Everyone has a different checklist in what they look for in a scholarship, and the key is to figure out your own priorities. For example, if you’re looking for a scholarship that looks good on a resumé, you’ll want to sort your options by which is the most prestigious. If you need financial help, you’ll go for the scholarship that offers the most lucrative payout. If your goal is to have options, you’ll apply for many different categories and awards.

Narrow the field, but cast a wide net. It may be worth your time

Now, this last option might sound a bit daunting, but if you think about it, applying for a ton of scholarships isn’t a horrible idea. I call this the dartboard approach: The more darts you throw at a target, the higher the odds are that you’ll hit something. Why not explore every option available? 

One easy way to weed out scholarships is to look at the scholarship’s criteria and eligibility requirements. If there’s even one thing you don’t match up with—say it requires a 3.5 GPA and you have a 3.4—don’t apply. Your application won’t be accepted.


Ultimately, the choice is yours, and how you use your time will be dependent on your own priorities. Just make sure you read carefully and know the financial stakes before you dot your i’s and cross your t’s.

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Morgan Staub

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