5 Secrets to Winning College, University Scholarships

This article was sent to us for publication by Shaan Patel, a Director of SAT Programs at a popular international examination and overseas admission firm in South Africa. Read and learn!

When I was in high school, I was received over half a million dollars in scholarship offers. Because some of these scholarship offers were school-specific, I ended up actually receiving approximately $237,000 to go to college. Needless to say, these scholarships still covered the cost of tuition, housing, textbooks, food, and all other college-related expenses during my undergraduate career.

Many people attribute my scholarship success to my perfect SAT score. While having a stellar SAT score certainly helped, there was one simple secret that helped me secure a debt-free college experience: local scholarships are easier to win. The fewer applicants there are to a particular scholarship, the greater your chances are of winning that scholarship. And local scholarships undoubtedly have fewer applicants than national scholarships.

Don’t believe me? Well, of the 100 scholarships I applied to during my senior year of high school, I only won 1 national scholarship that was open to everyone. However, I won over 20 local scholarships, which were only open to students in my community, city, or state.

This means that applying for those big, national scholarships that you find in books are actually not your best bet. In order to find local scholarships, you’ll have to do some legwork.

(1) Visit Your Counselor’s Office

Your counselor will likely have a resource of local community scholarships. Companies often announce a scholarship they are offering by notifying high school counselors. But sometimes, that message doesn’t get relayed to students. So you’re better off paying a visit to the counselor.

(2) Research Online

You can find many local scholarships by doing quick searches online. For example, if you go to high school in Burbank, California, search for terms like “California Scholarships”, “Burbank Scholarships,” “Los Angeles Scholarships,” and “Southern California Scholarships”. You will quickly find scholarships you’ve never heard of before. And that’s good! The more obscure the scholarship, the fewer applicants it is likely to have.

Recommended: Check our list of scholarships announced this week [open in new tab] and continue reading.

(3) Ask Around.

When we live in the age of laptops, iPhones, and iPads, we sometimes forget one of the best ways to obtain information: word of mouth. Often times, high school students who are older than you know of scholarships that are specific to your community and school. You should also ask your parents, counselors, and community leaders if they know of any scholarships offered by local companies.

(4) Apply to National-Local Scholarships.

What is a “national-local” scholarship? Well, I just made up the term. But I define it as a “national scholarship that allocates a certain number of scholarships to each state or community.” For example, when I was in high school, I applied for an award called the AXA Achievement Scholarship. Although it was a national scholarship and in association with U.S. News and World Report (so everyone knew about it), I still believed I had a good shot at winning. Why? Because even though the scholarship was open to everyone in the nation, AXA gave a $10,000 scholarship to 1 student in every state. Essentially, this turns this “national” scholarship into a “national-local” scholarship! And because I was from Nevada, I figured not too many students would be applying for this scholarship, which meant I had a good shot at winning. And I was right!

Recommended: Check-out list of documents required to make a good scholarship application [open in new tab].

(5) Find Local Scholarship Foundations.

Look for foundations in your community that are dedicated to disbursing scholarships. When I was attending school in Las Vegas, there was an organization called the “Clark County Public Education Foundation (CCPEF)”. The sole purpose of this organization was to give out scholarships to students. There are lots of individuals, organizations, and companies that want to give money to the youth. However, these donors don’t always know how to start their own scholarship program. So instead, they hire organizations like CCPEF to create, manage, and disburse scholarships on their behalf. CCPEF had a database of hundreds of scholarships that were only open to Las Vegas students. See if there is a similar organization in your community.

Once you have identified which local scholarships you will be applying for, it’s time to really focus on your applications! Put the deadlines for each scholarship in your planner so you don’t forget. And make sure you work weeks in advance to put together the best possible application (especially the essay).

By putting together stellar applications for many local scholarships, you are almost guaranteed to win!




  1. Stephen

    January 26, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    I’m a Tanzanian. Looking for pharmaceutical undergraduate degree scholarships. Most of the scholarships I see on the Internet are allocated for North African countries. Any help would be appreciated


    June 13, 2016 at 8:56 am

    am finalizing BBA/banking & finance from Cavendish university Uganda and would very happy when I get scholarship to do masters in business and there fore request you kindly to update me.Thank you very much for your positive cooperation.

  3. Yasmin Ahmed

    March 7, 2016 at 11:19 am

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  4. Tammy

    February 15, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    please i just finished highschool & am a nigerian i have applied so many scholarship and they are all
    fake,please how can i get a geniue scholarship thank you.

  5. Shelema Teferi

    December 14, 2015 at 7:05 am

    i’m from Ethiopia and i have in Horticulture and i wants to develop my specializations in your universities but, i don’t have enough information about scholarship applications,so please help me through my email:[email protected] or my phone number:0925496100,with best regards !!

  6. Dr. Frederick Mesonge

    November 18, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    We are hoping your application process for this scholarship has been smooth. Any of you having issues applying should visit the topic via the link within this reply to let us know. We are willing to help 🙂

  7. Ashebir Alemu

    November 18, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    my name is Ashebir. ihave b sc. in electrical engineering. please give me m sc. scholarship to related fields.

  8. mohamed Bangura

    November 13, 2015 at 8:20 am

    hello dear am Mohamed from sierra leone. have just completed my higher school education and really need this Scolarship to further my studies if you can only manage to help me I’ll be more great full please help me. for more info email at [email protected] com or contact +23277343111/+23279003672 .more over i want to thank this government for given ous this opportunity thanks in supplement. hope to here from you thanks

  9. Mogaka Ombongi Dennis

    November 12, 2015 at 6:28 am

    I am .a Kenyan 19 years old i have a passion in law and i need a scholarship to study in the USA..please help me on how to go about it. Am an orphan

  10. Berhanu Negawo Jabessa

    November 10, 2015 at 9:29 am

    My name is Berhanu Negawo Jabessa. I’m from Ethiopia. I have graduated in Bachelor of Art in accounting. I want to learn MBA in your University. please contact me in the listed email addresses & phone number if you want to gave me a chance of this thank you in advance for you polite consideration of my number: +251-912-232-095

  11. Tamba ES Janko

    November 6, 2015 at 7:25 am

    I am a Gambian who studied A certificate course in Teaching But I have no other means to persuade my career because I came from an indigent background ma wis is to get a degree

  12. Brave

    November 5, 2015 at 4:04 pm

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  13. Eric king Akpadzi

    November 4, 2015 at 8:56 am

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  14. DIVINE

    November 1, 2015 at 8:21 pm

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    • Dr. Frederick Mesonge

      November 2, 2015 at 8:34 am

      Dear Devine, this website has several open scholarships you can win. Use the links within to browse through and locate the best for yourself.

  15. Solomon Mitiku

    October 27, 2015 at 10:20 am

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  16. girma

    October 25, 2015 at 10:10 am

    pls tell me your email address for contact you and how i know the system of application . tell us for Ethiopian student like me. thank you .

  17. derse gebrewold

    October 25, 2015 at 5:54 am

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    October 24, 2015 at 6:55 pm

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  19. degu

    October 24, 2015 at 4:53 am

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  20. Hassan Oppong

    October 24, 2015 at 3:21 am

    I am interested in applying for a scholarship to study in Canada but do not know how to go about it. Can you assist me. Thank you.

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