The College Scholarship Mistake I Won’t Make Twice


When I married my husband, my stepdaughter was only seven-years-old. She was a sweet little girl who loved American Girl Dolls and gymnastics. Today, she is twenty-years-old and a sophomore in college. Not only do I personally regret not seeking out and applying for scholarships when I was in school (I finished paying off my loans at 30!), I also dropped the ball on helping my stepdaughter navigate opportunities for scholarships.

Her junior and senior years flew by and with them, my best intentions flew out the window. Test prep, ACTs, and a varsity sports dominated junior year. Senior year was just as hectic, with college essays and applications thrown into the mix. We got the essays written, college applications completed, and the FAFSA filled out. Then the graduation party planning took over, and our daughter caught a case of senioritis. 

Today I have two more kids go through the college application process, and I’m vowing right now to pay closer attention, and start looking for scholarships sooner. I now understand this is NOT a task to be left for senior year!


Scholarships are not just for superstar athletes and straight-A students. Students can apply for some well before senior year, and still others throughout college. Fellow mamas, here is what I have learned in my quest to do better next time.

Two great places to start:

Head over to the library and check out The Ultimate Scholarship Book. I know everything is online these days, but this book will save you hours of Google searches. In the first hundred pages alone, it lays out tips for success and lists endless scholarships you can flip through, all organized by state of residence, area of study, family situation, etc.

Next, check out the Office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC), which allows you to fill out your information, and suggests scholarships that might be a good fit. This site compiles tons of scholarships for Oregon Students, and is a great resource.

Look local and look for fun:

Portlanders are notorious for lifting each other up. Scholarships are no different. Here are FOUR scholarships helping Portland kids reach for the stars through the rain clouds, and one more national scholarship just for fun!

1. Better Business Bureau Students of Integrity

Who: Juniors and seniors from the Pacific Northwest
Amount: $10,000
Deadline: February 13, 2018
What’s Special About It: The application requirement of including a ninety second video about how the BBB helps create smarter consumers could prove a valuable lesson before releasing them into the world. 

2. Oregon Ethics in Business Scholarship (Sponsored by the Portland Rotary)

Who: Students currently attending an Oregon College or University, maintaining at least a 3.25GPA
Amount: $2,000, multiple awards
Deadline: March 1, 2018
What’s Special About It: This one can be completed if they’re already in college. 

3. Greenfield Peace Writing

Who: Juniors and seniors attending high school in Oregon
Amount: $1000, $750, $500
Deadline: March 5, 2018
What’s Special About It: This is an opportunity to turn that teenage idealistic dream into money for college!

4. Harrington Family Foundation Community Quarterback

Who: Seniors attending high school in Oregon. This is not a scholarship for football players; it’s for leaders!
Amount: $4,000 renewable for up to $16,000 over four years
Deadline: April 2, 2018 (including references)
What’s Special About It: This scholarship comes with a board of mentors to advise you on your college journey.

5. Stuck At Prom

Who: Students ages 14+
Amount: $10,000
Deadline: June 1, 2018
What’s Special About It: Your application is prom attire made entirely out of Duct Tape!

What kinds of scholarships are your kids applying for?
Any recommendations for other moms with college-bound kids? Please share them in the comments!

momKatie moved to Portland from Chicago three years ago. She has a ten-year-old daughter, an eight-year-old son, and a 19-year-old stepdaughter. She is a freelance advertising producer, blogger, and avid school volunteer constantly adjusting to find balance. When she isn’t shuttling kids to sports or navigating college applications she can be found at one of Portland’s amazing coffee shops reading some YA fiction, or out for a run contemplating life and why Portlanders don’t like to cross the river. You can follow Katie on Twitter and Instagram and read her personal blog at