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 exactly is worth your time and effort.

Use your time wisely.

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?

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What are you looking for?

Like most things in life, there’s no easy answer. Or even an answer in general. Everyone has a different checklist in what they look for in a scholarship. 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? The more scholarships you apply for, the more money you’re likely to receive. 

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, don’t apply. The scholarship won’t accept your application, even if you have a 3.4 GPA instead of a 3.5 GPA. Maybe you’re rolling your eyes. But keep in mind that there are plenty of people also applying to this scholarship who do meet the criteria. Your time is better spent applying to scholarships that you meet all the qualifications for. And trust me, there are tons of scholarships on the internet, in databases, from local businesses — really anywhere — that fit you.

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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Lender Rates (APR) Eligibility
Sallie Mae logo.
1.13% - 11.23% Variable
3.50%- 12.60% Fixed
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Credibe company logo.
0.99% - 11.99% Variable
2.94% - 12.99% Fixed
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Lendkey company logo.
1.13% - 11.23% Variable
3.50% - 12.60% Fixed
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Ascent company logo.
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3.24% - 11.33% Fixed
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2.94% - 12.99% Fixed
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4.35% - 7.15% Fixed
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Earnest company logo.
0.99% - 11.44% Variable
2.94% - 12.78% Fixed
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1.20% - 11.52% Variable
3.20% - 11.99% Fixed
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College Raptor is not a loan lender and does not assume responsibility for suggesting a loan to a user who may not be eligible for it. Rates, terms, conditions, eligibility, approval, and other considerations are the decisions of the lenders and may vary depending on which lender or marketplace the user selects. We urge users to carefully consider and review all loan options and terms before committing to taking out a loan.

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