Win Scholarship Money Now! 10 Essay Contests for High School Sophomores and Juniors
Learn how to win college scholarship money now with these 10 essay contests for high school sophomores and juniors.
Opportunities abound for high school sophomores and juniors to write essays and win college scholarship money. For potential pay-days as big as $10,000, it’s time well-spent.
My College Guide has gathered a list of 10 essay contests that high school sophomores and juniors can participate in. Be sure to check each contest’s website for complete rules and deadlines. Now, get your laptop ready and start writing!
American Foreign Service Association Essay Contest: Write an essay for this prestigious national essay contest for a chance to win a $2,500 cash prize, an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to meet the Secretary of State and full tuition to cover a Semester at Sea voyage once you enroll at an accredited university. Any high school student can enter. New essay contest rules and the application are posted in November each year. The deadline is typically in April.
Bennington Young Writers Awards: Students in grades 10 through 12 can participate in this writing contest. Choose from one of three categories: poetry, fiction or nonfiction personal or academic essay. The deadline is usually November 1 each year. Top prize is $500.
DuPont Challenge Science Essay Contest: Middle school and high school students can participate in this essay contest. Write an essay on a science-related topic on one of four of the identified challenges: feeding the world, building a secure energy future, protecting people and the environment and being innovative. The deadline is typically in February each year. Prizes range from a $250 U.S. Savings Bond to a $5,000 U.S. Savings Bond. First, second and third place winners also receive a trip to Orlando.
EGirl Essay Contest: The National Academy of Engineering’s EngineerGirl website offers an essay contest on an engineering topic for girls and boys. Awards range from $100 to $500. Winning entries are published online.
First Freedom Student Competition: Write an essay (or create a video) about a topic examining the history and current-day relevance of religious freedom. Top prize is $2,500. The deadline is usually in November each year.
The Fountainhead Essay Contest: High school juniors can read Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and write an essay on one of three topics. Prizes range from $50 to $10,000. The entry deadline is typically in April.
JFK Profile in Courage Essay Contest: Write an essay on a U.S. elected official “who has chosen to do what is right, rather than what is expedient.” The winner gets $10,000, second place gets $1,000 and up to five finalists receive $500 each. The deadline is typically in early January each year.
George S. & Stella M. Knight Essay Contest: The National Society Sons of the American Revolution sponsors this annual essay contest. Students compete at the state and national levels. You must write an essay on a topic related to the American Revolution, Declaration of Independence or U.S. Constitution. The top national winner receives $2,000. State/local deadlines are usually by no later than December 31 each year, but these deadlines can vary depending on location.
National Peace Essay Contest: The U.S. Institute of Peace offers this contest. First-place state winners receive a trip to Washington, D.C., and a $1,000 scholarship. National award winners receive $2,500 to $10,000. Essays are typically due in February.
Scholastic Art & Writing Awards: Apply in one of 28 categories to earn a scholarship and have your artwork exhibited or writing published. Awards range from $500 to $2,500. New submissions are typically accepted beginning in September each year. Deadlines vary by region and contest.
Top 25 College Scholarships for High School Students
Nearing the end of your high school career is an exciting time of life and the options seem endless when it comes to choosing a college that suits your interests, lifestyle, and budget.
Luckily, there are also hundreds of fun and exciting scholarships out there that can help you earn money for school!
Below, we have put together a list of 25 unique scholarships that are not only helpful for paying tuition – they are actually fun to do!
Update: Check out our list of 2,100+ college scholarships for high school seniors!
Top 25 Unique Scholarships for High School Students
|Scholarship||Value||Scholarship at a Glance|
|Ursinus College Creative Writing Award||$33,000||If you are a quirky, brilliant writer in the spirit of J.D. Salinger, your creative writing skills could earn you $33,000 a year to complete a four-year degree at Ursinus College.|
|Annual Create-A-Greeting-Card $10,000 Scholarship Contest||$10,000||Put your artistic talent to use by submitting your unique design for a greeting card from The Gallery Collection!|
|Doodle 4 Google||$5,000-30,000||Submit your application for an innovative and creative Google doodle based upon the annual contest theme!|
|Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarships||$5,000-10,000||You can now earn money for school by demonstrating compassion, courage, and commitment through vegetarianism!|
|Youth Wildlife Art Contest||$5,000||This contest encourages students to submit artwork featuring North American game animals for a chance to win cash prizes.|
|Shaw-Worth Memorial Scholarship||$2,500||If animals are your passion, then you can change the world and your future by applying for this Humane Society scholarship.|
|Student Design Competition||$2,500||Take home a substantial scholarship prize by designing and constructing a prototype that solves a range of design problems.|
|Superpower Scholarship||$2,500||Step into your hero’s shoes by writing a short essay on how you would spend the day swapping places with your favorite superhero.|
|Courageous Persuaders Video Scholarship Competition||$2,000||Make a difference in your community by creating a 30 second TV commercial that warns middle schoolers about the dangers of drinking and driving.|
|American Fire Sprinkler Association Scholarship||$2,000||Simply read an essay and take a 10 question open-book quiz to earn up to 10 entries in a drawing for a $2,000 scholarship!|
|The Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship||$2,000||The zombie trend continues with this unique chance to win a scholarship by writing a 250-word essay that details your plan of action if zombies overran your school.|
|Illustrators of the Future Contest||$1,500-5,000||Submit your original black and white works that illustrate a science fiction or fantasy story to win cash rewards to put towards your college education.|
|Ice Cream Flavor of the Month Scholarship||$1,500||Imagine yourself as ice cream and write an essay about the flavor that best suits your personality to win sweet scholarship awards!|
|Top Ten List Scholarship||$1,500||Confidence pays off and you can earn money for school by submitting a top 10 list that highlights the reasons why you are completely awesome.|
|National Peace Essay Contest||$1,000-10,000||Join the movement for a better world by writing an outstanding essay for submission to this contest through the U.S. Institute of Peace.|
|National Marbles Tournament Scholarship||$1,000-2,000||The winners from the annual National Marbles Tournament can win cash prizes to help them attend the college of their choice.|
|$1,000 Cappex Easy College Money Scholarship||$1,000||Simply fill out a Cappex profile and submit an entry for a chance to win a college scholarship with no essay to write!|
|Frame My Future Scholarship||$1,000||Bring your vision to life by showing what your professional life will be like after college through the use of poetry, drawings, or any other creative medium!|
|You, Me, and Poetry Scholarship||$1,000||Describe your journey as a poet by submitting a unique poem for a chance to win cash for college!|
|Make Us Laugh Scholarship||$1,000||Use your gift of humor to earn money for college! Just submit a 250-word essay describing a funny event in your life for the chance to earn $1,000!|
|Writers of the Future Contest||$500-5,000||Submit your fantasy or science fiction literary masterpiece of up to 17,000 words for a chance at a number of cash prizes to start your college dream!|
|Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest||$500–5,000||Put your best foot forward by creating dazzling his and hers prom outfits crafted completely out of duct tape!|
|Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Content||$500-2,000||Opportunity for high school seniors across the U.S. to try their hand at four different duck calls to win money to attend college.|
|Star Trek StarFleet Command Scholarship Award||$500||Trekkies unite! Through this scholarship program, StarFleet members can earn monetary awards in a variety of educational fields.|
|Common Knowledge Scholarship||$250-2,500||By taking quizzes on a variety of topics, students with the highest scores will win money for college.|
Winning Top Scholarship Prizes
Finding unique scholarship opportunities that suit your interests is only the first step in earning money towards school – now you have to stand out from the crowd of applicants!
The best way to stand out from other students trying to earn top scholarship prizes depends on the type of award. Are you trying to earn money through random drawings? Then set up reminders to put your entry in as often as allowed! Are you submitting a short essay for one of the quirky topics in the table above? Then take some time to find a creative approach that is outside the box!
Other proven tips to help you get the most out of your scholarship applications include:
- Applying early and staying on top of deadlines
- Tailoring your answer to the specific mission of the sponsor
- Using free scholarship matching services to find unique opportunities
- Writing your essays with passion and giving specific examples
- Remembering to proofread your scholarship application!
Whether you are passionate about art, love science fiction, or simply want to earn scholarships without writing essays, there are plenty of unique ways to help fund your college education!