Violin teacher helping a student at the conservatory

Use Your Talents to Earn Scholarships for College

From dancing to building robots, these competitions reward students with creative, hands-on skills.

Violin teacher helping a student at the conservatory

The Glenn Miller Scholarship supports graduating high school seniors and first-year college students who want to pursue a future in music.

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Plenty of scholarships require an application or an essay, but an increasing number of scholarship competitions are allowing students to showcase their talent and creativity in more practical ways. From ballet to building robots, these talent-based contests award scholarships to put toward higher education in a variety of fields.

Over the last few years, the availability of scholarships in STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math –  has been on the rise. To showcase your scientific skills, check out the Google Science Fair, an online science competition open to students between the ages of 13 and 18 from around the world.

[Check out additional college scholarships for STEM students.]

Students are invited to show off their innovative ideas by creating a project of their choosing that fits in the 11 preset categories ranging from computer science to flora and fauna. The grand prize includes not only $50,000 in scholarship funding but several other generous prizes, including a 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands with National Geographic Expeditions and a $10,000 grant toward classroom computing or science lab equipment at the winning student's school. 

A winner in every age category also receives a $25,000 scholarship. Special prizes, awards and grants are also available and can be seen on the competition’s website .

Female students can show off their talents through Distinguished Young Women. Founded in 1958, it is the largest and oldest national scholarship program for high school girls, and seeks to help them develop their full potential through a fun experience that culminates in a celebratory showcase of their accomplishments.

Participants compete in categories of interview, talent, fitness and self-expression, and a panel of scholars reviews each participant’s academic transcripts. In addition to cash scholarships, Distinguished Young Women also works with colleges and universities across the U.S. to provide college scholarship to winners. Scholarship awards range from $1,000 to $30,000.

[Learn where to find scholarship opportunities for women.]

For students who enjoy time in the spotlight, contests in the performing arts can help further their training or education. For example, the New York City Dance Alliance invites any dancer who has completed their junior or senior year of high school to audition for numerous scholarships. The auditions consist of a ballet class and contemporary choreography, and the awarded scholarship may be applied to the college of the dancer’s choice.

Musicians can also compete for scholarships in many ways. The Glenn Miller Scholarship Competition seeks to assist promising young talent in any field of applied music. Graduating high school seniors as well as first-year college students are welcome to apply by submitting the application form along with music samples highlighting either their vocal or instrumental talent.

[Find scholarship programs that reward creative, offbeat interests.]

FMC Agricultural Solutions hosts the Stand and Be Heard Anthem Singing Contest  singers. Students are invited to submit a video of themselves singing the national anthem. Online voters send the top five videos from each region to a panel of judges who decide the top four finalists. All finalists receive a $5,000 scholarship, and one grand prize winner will receive a $10,000 scholarship.

If you have talents in other areas – from visual art to writing to cooking – there are scholarships out there for you, too. Perform a scholarship search based on your talents and interests and see what you can find.

Finally, make sure to check with the colleges and universities you are interested in or are currently enrolled in for competitive scholarships. Don’t miss a unique opportunity to use your special skills and talents to earn scholarships to contribute to your pursuit of higher education.