Yes, it's true that scholarships labeled "prestigious" usually have lengthy applications, require special projects, and are certainly more competitive than most. But if you're eligible for one of these scholarships, it definitely can't hurt to apply.
After all, someone has to win. If you're one of the lucky ones selected from hundreds or even thousands of students, not only will a large portion of your undergraduate tuition be covered, but you'll also gain an incredible amount of honor and opportunity from winning. And if you don't win, you still have a lot to gain by going through the application process.
Note: If you're thinking of applying for one of these prestigious awards, make sure you do some very early research. Many of the scholarships require special projects or extensive involvement in a certain academic field during high school.
Here are seven of the more well-known and lucrative scholarships available to high school students:
1. Coca-Cola Scholars Program: Open to high school seniors who are outstanding leaders in business, government, the arts, or education. This program gives $20,000 renewable scholarships to 50 students and $10,000 renewable scholarships to 400.
2. Davidson Fellows Scholarships: Offers $50,000, $20,000, and $10,000 scholarships to high school students who have completed a portfolio or project related to science, math, technology, music, literature, or philosophy.
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3. Gates Millennium Scholars: Full-ride scholarships open to high school seniors who have demonstrated leadership in community service or extracurricular activities, meet Federal Pell Grant eligibility requirements, and are U.S. citizens of African-American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American, or Hispanic descent.
4. Intel Science Talent Search: An extremely prestigious pre-college science competition awarding scholarships of up to $100,000 for original science projects.
5. National Merit Scholarships: This is one prestigious scholarship that doesn't actually take much work to apply. Taking the Pre-SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test automatically enters you into the competition, and multiple scholarships are awarded.
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6. Ron Brown Scholar Program: Seeks out African-American high school students with the potential to make significant contributions to society. Applicants must demonstrate leadership, academic excellence, and community service. Ten students will receive a renewable $10,000 scholarship.
7. Siemens Competition: One of the highest science honors for high school students. Multiple scholarships of up to $100,000 are awarded to individuals with remarkable talent in the science, math, and technology fields. Recognizes extraordinary science projects completed during high school years.
Michelle Showalter joined Scholarship America in 2007 and is an alumna of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.