Are scholarships worth the effort it takes to apply? Absolutely! Scholarship applications not only give you the opportunity to earn free money for college, but they also help build skills that will be useful when applying for colleges and future job opportunities. However, many students decide not to apply because of the common misconceptions surrounding scholarship applications. Here are some common scholarship myths, debunked!

Senior year is the best time to start searching for scholarships.

You can start searching for scholarships your senior year, but the process should start as early as your freshman year. You won’t be able to actually apply for most scholarships if you start that early, but many scholarships are offered annually, so they will still be around when you’re ready for them. Freshmen and sophomores should start researching which awards they might apply for. Additionally, they should focus on academics, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and part-time employment to build up their résumé for applications. Juniors should finalize their scholarship list and create a plan for senior year. This involves researching potential essay topics and making sure you have a few adults who you can ask to write a letter of recommendation. This plan will allow you to focus on scholarship applications your senior year instead of trying to find scholarships.

Scholarships are only available to high school students.

Many scholarships are available to high school seniors, but scholarships are also available for current college students, adult learners, and graduate students. You will never know what is out there unless you look.

Small scholarships aren’t worth applying for.

It may seem that smaller scholarships aren’t worth the effort it takes to apply, but consider this: If you spend two hours working on a scholarship application and win $500, you will have earned $250 per hour toward your education. You won’t make that kind of money at any job. Additionally, smaller scholarships sometimes have fewer applicants, which could increase your odds of winning.

You have to be a great writer to receive a scholarship.

Anyone who follows instructions has a chance to win scholarship money. If you struggle with writing, just do your best and make sure that you ask someone to proofread your work before submitting it. Want more information about writing winning scholarship essays? Check out these tips!

‘Average’ students don’t earn scholarships.

A lot of people believe that you need to be exceptional in some way in order to earn scholarships (a scholar, a star athlete, have extreme financial need, etc.) While it is true that many scholarships are available to these types of students, there are also several scholarships available that do not have any of these requirements. Look for scholarships based on your extracurricular activities and interests, as well as scholarships offered by the school you plan to attend. You will be surprised by the scholarships you find.

The competition for scholarships is too intense to bother applying.

Scholarship competition is intense, but not impossible. In fact, some scholarship providers prefer to award money to students who have not earned many scholarships yet. You may not receive every scholarship you apply for, but you’ll earn way more money than if you don’t apply at all.

My scholarship search can stop after I graduate from high school. 

Definitely apply for scholarships your senior year, but keep the scholarship search going throughout your college career. Scholarships are available for all levels of undergraduates. Being aware of your scholarship opportunities will reduce the amount you have to pay out of pocket. 

I’m so awesome, the scholarships will come to me! 

So you have a killer résumé and you did well in school. Great! However, you still need to apply for scholarships. Most scholarship providers expect you to come to them, not the other way around. Yes, this also includes athletic scholarships, merit scholarships, and diversity scholarships. To make the best of your achievements, put together some awesome scholarship applications and submit them!

Although it does take time and effort to apply for scholarships, every little bit helps when it comes to paying for your education. Do yourself a favor and start working on those applications! Trust me, you won’t regret it.