Activities That Earn Scholarship Dollars

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Don’t Miss These Scholarship Dollars

This is my first round of college admissions. I have been surprised at the amount of college dollars available to my kids from the colleges they have applied to. Merit and Athletic Scholarships have covered a large part of our kids’ college costs. There are grants and scholarships for every student, but you need to search and apply early.

As we are trying to find scholarships to cover the remaining expenses, I am finding a few places I wished I had participated in with my kids before their senior year. In this article we share a few places where we left money on the table in our college apps. My hope is that you can be forewarned and take advantage of these programs to earn the maximum scholarship dollars for your students.

Blank Lines Cost You, These Activities Earn Money for College

Joining a National Honor Society

If your students qualify by meeting the test score requirements, they should join Eta Sigma Alpha. This is the Nationally Recognized Honor Society for homeschooled students. You can check their website to find a local chapter. If there is no local chapter, you students can join the national chapter.

I didn’t see the importance of spending an extra $40 for honor chords. An unfortunate flaw in my personality is that I need good quality reasons before I do respond to suggestions. I wish I had known the significance before my oldest had already graduated. One college we looked at offered a $2,000 scholarship just for being a member.

We did the core work and are very proud of our kids’ accomplishments but just like creating an award for Honor Roll or Dean’s List, it felt self serving. I thought it was just one more paper for the box in my attic. Little did I know that leaving those blank lines on college applications would cost my kids money.

Fortunately we still have time to apply this year for my kids who are looking to enroll in the fall of the next school year. Applications close the first of March each school year; so you need to plan ahead and get your testing done and forms sent in.

Leadership in an Activity

Colleges are looking for what kind of person your student is. They do this by seeing what activities applicants are involved in. This is an area where homeschoolers who are thinking outside of the box can stand out on a college application. As homeschoolers, we are involved in a diverse list of activities and pursuits. Because our activities and learning opportunities are often nontraditional, it is difficult to fit them on neat little lines.

We ran into this on my daughter’s Art Scholarship application. The application asked for a list of Art Classes she had taken. Immediately she was discouraged. She has not taken any classes in the traditional classroom setting. We needed to think about more than just filling in a line. I started by asking her better questions about what she was using to improve her art skills. She has used an unconventional approach, following online artists and building a community of other young artists like herself. She scours Pinterest for ideas and watches YouTube videos to learn specific techniques. Instead of saying she has never taken a class, we are highlighting how she is finding her own teachers and selecting lessons she needs for online resources. Isn’t that what makes homeschoolers unique? Shouldn’t we showcase that in a college or scholarship application?

We are rural so “live” lessons have not been an option. We still found ways to learn art skills. You can get an account to SkillShare like we did for way less than private art lessons. With their online classes, your children have their own private library of lessons. They can choose to connect with others in an online community. Add a few other homeschoolers, and you have yourself an art club. Depending on your child’s level of access to social media, this can include international homeschool kids and following their own favorite artists. My daughter has a widespread community of kids who share their art, ideas, and inspirations with each other in online groups. This may not seem like a traditional club at first glance, but is it really any different from a physical location meeting once a week to share their ideas?

Activities for Rural Home Educators

Living a large distance from the nearest population center means there are less opportunities for our kids to join bigger mainstream programs. You usually have to outlay a great deal of time and cash to join clubs or activities. Early in our homeschool life, that was not possible. Being a large family has also made it prohibitive to be involved in numerous activities because of logistics. Most of the time, I am the driver for weekday activities. Unfortunately, there is only one of me and living far from town makes it difficult to carpool or team-up with other families. Even with our limited organized activities, we have to pick and choose what fits our life.

Before you begin to feel helpless, let me share the things we have listed for activities.

We listed sports involvement and peer art group and music lessons. Our kids volunteer at an after school program once a week and help with VBS one week in the summer. They have taken Code classes and programmed their own LEGO robots.

Could you name your church youth club for the volunteer activities they do throughout the year? Our group does several community service projects a year. Think outside of the ordinary. You child might be doing some amazing things and there may be a unique way to showcase it.

If your child has a few years of high school left, you might start thinking about how you can put some of their skills to work and enroll in parallel activities with that blank line in mind. Need some help?

What are your children leading or organizing in, in their everyday lives?

Are they taking lessons?

Are or could they get involved in FFA, 4H, or Scouts?

Do they play any sports and could they join a league or club for it?

Have they been in a play or do regular skits at church?

Do they lead an independent Bible study or community group?

Do they teach a kids class or volunteer regularly?

Have they created a product or created a small business (bread, soaps, lawn care, hauling or cleaning, etc.)?

All of these are skills that make them great looking students! Begin thinking of the ways you can highlight your unique learning opportunities. You don’t have to stick to a single line answer. Don’t be afraid to talk about how you took advantage of the unique opportunity homeschooling gives us. Showcase them with a bold portfolio of learning and earn those scholarship dollars.

Are you a veteran with a homeschool grad or two? Share your unique activities that caught college admissions’ eye with us in the comments and help inspire the future graduating class.


Amber Smith is a second-generation homeschooling Mother of 11. Her K-12 home is in rural Iowa, where she has spent the last 21 years with her 5-star chef, & laundry maverick husband, Doug. Amber is a freelance writer. She is a regular contributor for the Sonlight Blog and is a curriculum reviewer for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. She has been blogging for three years at, where she writes devotional work and shares quality tools and resources that help parents to live well and finish strong as homeschooling families.

As a leader of a large family, her heart desire is to prove that no none is too busy for self-care or to peruse their dreams. She is encouraging homeschool parents to find their passions and live vibrant lives while their kids are still home.

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).