How to Focus Your Scholarship Search

Flickr user Thomas Claveirole

Scholarships are vitally important to pay for college, but it can be a little intimidating to get started. With thousands upon thousands of scholarship opportunities out there, where do you even start? Here are a few ways to help focus your search.

Local > State > National

There are multiple “levels” where scholarships can be found. It could help you to start local and expand outwards from there. Your high school counselor will know about local and state scholarships. Local opportunities may advertise at libraries. Once you’ve exhausted local, go state, then national. This natural progression can keep from overwhelming you with opportunities elsewhere.

Look with Your Major

There are many scholarships designed around students studying a certain major, or within a certain field. If you know what you want to major in, use it to find some scholarships. Free scholarship aggregate websites will often list hundreds of opportunities by their related major.


There are scholarships out there for students based on race, religion, gender orientation, disabilities, and more. Which demographics do you belong to? Odds are, there are opportunities for you to capitalize on that. Students who are members of the LGBTQ+ community, students who have learning disabilities, students who are first generation, and students who were adopted (and more) are all represented by one scholarship or another.

Try Some Extracurricular / Hobbies

You’re certainly no stranger to the concept of sports-based scholarships, but it goes beyond that. Activity-centric scholarships have a wide, wide range. There are scholarships for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, as well as scholarships for speaking Klingon or being prepared for the zombie apocalypse. So jot down a list of which extracurricular activities you participate in, or what hobbies you have, and get searching!

And if / when  scholarships aren’t enough, check out College Raptor’s new Student Loan Finder to find the ideal loan for you!

Allison Wignall

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