By tamaraRemember your P.E. class from grade school? You’re standing in line, waiting to be picked for the team, and what does the captain do? He or she picks the bigger students because it is presumed they will perform better or have more to offer. The same presumption often occurs with scholarship searches: the larger awards get all the attention, while the ‘little guys’ may see only a few dozen applications. This assumption is a mistake many students also make when searching and applying for scholarships. While the smaller programs may only offer $100, $250 or $500 as an award, a scholarship-savvy student will realize that by winning several of these awards, the total amount can really add up. The other upside of smaller awards is that they are often disbursed directly to the student and not the college. This means you can use the funds for food, clothing, gas or whatever else you may need at college. Here’s a sampling of some smaller awards available now: ‘Valley Humanities Review’ High School Scholarship Students are required to submit an essay of 2,500 to 6,000 words on any humanities topic. Both U.S. and international high school students are eligible to apply, and previous classroom assignments will be accepted. It’s a pretty safe bet that only a few hundred students may apply for this award based on the essay requirement and smaller award size, which means you have a better than average chance at winning the scholarship. AFA Teens Video Competition If writing isn’t your thing, give this video competition a shot. The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is offering one $500 and one $250 award to the U.S. students (ages 13-19) who create the best videos (2 minutes or less) that address the moment they gained an understanding of Alzheimer’s, learned something about being caregivers or became volunteers in their communities. Christophers Poster Contest A total of eight (8) awards ranging from $100 to $1,000 will be offered to students who create 15″ x 20″ posters that address the theme ‘You can make a difference’ and illustrate the idea that one person can create change. Any U.S. or international high school student in grades 9-12 is eligible to apply. It’s often true that good things come in small packages, and the same can be said for scholarships. Don’t dismiss any opportunity to earn free money for college, as every penny counts. Smaller awards can help cover books, lab fees, supplies and other common college expenses. So, don’t short-change yourself by overlooking these awards. To learn more about these programs, or find similar awards, be sure to use our Scholarship Directory.