9 Helpful Tips for Choosing the Right College Major

Figuring out how to choose the right college major for you is no easy task…especially since we’re asked to make such an important decision when we’re so young. It can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! Your college major doesn’t necessarily determine your future career and there will be plenty of opportunities to change your mind along the way.

In fact, 75% of college students either begin their academic career as undecided or change their major at least once. College is all about exploring yourself and finding what ignites your passion, so don’t be afraid to change your mind. And remember, deciding on a major should be a fun and exciting experience, not a scary one.

Check out our 9 tips on how to find the right college major for you:

Networking Tips

1. Talk with Current College Students

Speaking with current college students can be a huge help, especially if those students are majoring in one of the fields you’re interested in. Get an idea of what a typical day in that major looks like and what type of material you’ll be learning.

Talking with current college students can also give you ideas for different majors that you might not have known about or different combinations of majors and minors that match up with your interests.

how to choose the right college major for you

2. Speak with your Guidance Counselor

Guidance counselors are trained to help students prepare for college and they offer a free resource that many students fail to take advantage of. They can give you information on your potential schools and the different programs they offer as well as talk with you about your strengths and weaknesses to see what fields you might thrive in.

3. Find Others in the Field

Reaching out to professionals on LinkedIn can be a great way to gain an understanding of the possible paths you can take to get into your intended field. It can also paint a picture of what it’s like to work in that field, including necessary credentials and skills, employability, and daily responsibilities.

Talking with professionals on LinkedIn can also open you up to niche jobs that you might not have known about.

Personal Tips

4. Focus on Your Passion & Career Goals

Lots of people will tell you to study a profitable major. In fact, you’ve probably been hearing it for the last few years, but that’s not always the best path to go down. Entering a field that pays well isn’t an automatic recipe for success. Following your passion, regardless of what it is, can be just as profitable (and will probably make you happier).

Generally, when we do something we’re passionate about, we put all of our effort into it. When we put all our effort into something, we usually do an amazing job at it and our passion inspires those around us. Being able to make money is nice, but passion will be what gives you the motivation and drive to succeed.

You should also take some time to contemplate your career goals and how your intended major can line up with them. Bonus points if your career goals and passions line up!

how to choose the right college major for you

5. Think of What You’re Good At

If you’re totally lost, think of what you’re good at! If you have a talent for math, why not look into math or engineering-related majors? If you love meeting people from other cultures, look into international relations or anthropology. You get the idea! A great place to start is to think about your favorite classes or classes you excelled in during high school.

6. Take a Personality Test

Personality tests can be really useful in helping you realize your strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies. Plus, the results often give you a summary of which career fields are best for your personality. You don’t need to necessarily follow what it says, but it can provide a different perspective.

Check out this personality test which provides in-depth results on strengths, weaknesses, and potential career fields. 

7. Consider Earning Potential

While income isn’t important to everyone, it should be a factor if one of your life goals is to earn a higher salary. You can use websites like GlassDoor to get an idea of salaries for your potential career field.

how to choose the right college major for you

8. Get Involved

Participating in extracurricular activities can be a great way to explore your interests and gain experience in various fields. Try joining clubs, sports teams, or volunteer groups at your high school or college. You can also attend events in your community!

9. Don’t Panic!

Determining how to choose the best college major for you shouldn’t send you into panic mode and it’s likely won’t affect your life as much as you think it will. Majors are flexible and there will be plenty of chances to change your mind. Additionally, you can double major which will open up twice as many opportunities for you. Just remember – the most important thing is that you have a degree in general. As you explore your interests, you can adapt your plan and studies to fit your new goals.

9 Stellar Scholarships to Apply for in Iowa

The Hawkeye State isn’t just known for its agriculture, it’s also home to a handful of great universities! Top schools like the University of Iowa and Iowa State University attract thousands of students from all over each year…but studying here doesn’t come cheap!

The average in-state tuition for the University of Iowa is $9,492 per year while out-of-state students can expect to pay $31,458. Iowa State University is a cheaper option, with in-state tuition costing $3,870 and out-of-state tuition coming in at $11,072. For some, these prices can make it difficult to continue their education, but scholarships can help!

Benefits of Scholarships & How to Apply

Scholarships are great because they never need to be paid back and there are tons of different ones for all types of situations. The best place to start your search is with Going Merry. We match you with relevant scholarships and allow you to apply directly through the sitesaving you both time and money! Then, talk with your high school guidance counselor or college financial aid office to learn about even more opportunities.

If you’d like more information and scholarship tips in the meantime, check out our comprehensive guide to applying for scholarships or our list of expert tips to bring your application to the next level.

scholarships in iowa

Check out these 9 scholarships in Iowa: 

1. The Robert D. Blue Scholarship

These Iowa scholarships are awarded to state residents who are planning to attend college during the next school year. Award amounts vary and winners are heavily determined by financial need.

Amount: $500 to $1,000

Provider: Iowa State Treasurer’s Office

Who Can Apply: High School Seniors & Undergraduate Students

Requirements: (a) Planning to attend an accredited college or university for the upcoming school year, (b) Residency in Iowa, (c) Financial need, (d) Academic achievement. For more information, please visit the scholarship website.

2. The All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship

Incoming college freshmen who graduated within the last two years are eligible to apply for these renewable scholarships in Oregon. Priority is given to students who have overcome financially difficult situations. Some examples are children who have aged out of the foster care system, children of deceased public safety workers, and students who participated in the GEAR UP grant program in Iowa.  

Amount: Varies (For the 2018-2019 school year, the maximum award was $4,532)

Provider: Iowa College Student Aid Commission

Who Can Apply: High School Seniors & Recent Graduates

Requirements: (a) Planning to attend an eligible college or university in Iowa, (b) Residency in Iowa, (c) FAFSA, (d) Enrollment in at least three semester hours while in college, (e) Meet the criteria for Expected Family Contribution on the FAFSA (TBD). For more information, please visit the scholarship website.

3. The Tim Dwight Foundation, Inc. Scholarship

The Tim Dwight Foundation, Inc. scholarship focuses on students with high potential who have overcome challenges in their lives. Some examples include social, mental, and physical disabilities, one-parent families, and long-term health issues. Recipients must attend Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, or the University of Northern Iowa.

Amount: Full Tuition for One Year

Provider: The Tim Dwight Foundation, Inc.,

Who Can Apply: High School Seniors

Requirements: (a) Residency in Iowa, (b) U.S. Citizen, (c) Full-Time Enrollment in college, (d) Graduating from an Iowa High School. For more information, please visit the scholarship website.

scholarships in iowa

4. The Lois Dell Memorial Scholarship

The Lois Dell Memorial Scholarship is awarded to female students studying full-time at an accredited college or university. Any woman from Polk, Boone, Dallas, Jasper, Madison, Marion, Story, or Warren County can apply.

Amount: $1,000

Provider: The Des Moines Women’s Club

Who Can Apply: Undergraduate Students

Requirements: (a) Female, (b) Enrollment in an accredited college or university, (c) Full-time student status.  For more information, please visit the scholarship website.

5. Larry W. Carter Scholarship

These scholarships in Iowa were created in memory of Larry W. Carter, an activist and prominent community leader. Any African-American Iowa resident is eligible to apply. Applicants can be pursuing full-time or part-time studies at the undergraduate or graduate level.

Amount: Varies

Provider: The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines

Who Can Apply: High School Seniors, Undergraduate Students, Graduate Students

Requirements: (a) Residency in Iowa, (b) African American, (c) Enrollment in a full-time or part-time college program. For more information, please visit the scholarship website.

6. PMI Eastern Iowa Chapter Scholarship

These Iowa scholarships are awarded to undergraduate and graduate students pursuing a degree in project management or a related field. Priority is given to children and stepchildren of PMI residents who are residents of Eastern Iowa.

Amount: Up to $1,000

Provider: The Project Management Institute

Who Can Apply: Undergraduate Students & Graduate Students

Requirements: (a) Pursuing or planning to pursue a degree in Project Management or a related field, (b) Attending or planning to attend an accredited college or university. For more information, please visit the scholarship website.

scholarships in iowa

7. Home Builders Association of Iowa Scholarship

Students pursuing a career in the homebuilding industry or a related trade as well as immediate family members of association members are eligible to apply for these generous scholarships in Iowa.

Amount: $1,000

Provider: The Home Builders Association of Iowa

Who Can Apply: High School Seniors, Undergraduate Students, Graduate Students

Requirements: (a) Pursuing or planning to pursue a relevant career, (b) Residency in Iowa. For more information, please visit the scholarship website.

8. The Shirley and Kenneth Smith Memorial Scholarship

These generous awards are granted to male and female students planning to major or minor in art, especially painting or drawing. Applicants must be residents or full-time students in Polk, Boone, Dallas, Jasper, Madison, Marion, Story, or Warren County.

Amount: $2,000

Provider: The Des Moines Women’s Club

Who Can Apply: High School Seniors

Requirements: (a) Residency in one of the counties mentioned above, (b) Plans to major or minor in art.  For more information, please visit the scholarship website.

9. Conservation Districts of Iowa Scholarships

Students interested in pursuing a degree related to conservation or agriculture are eligible to apply for these scholarships in Iowa. Applicants must be graduating from an Iowa high school and be residents of the state of Iowa. The winner is chosen based on career goals, involvement, leadership, character, conservation message, and academic achievement.

Amount: $600 to $4,000

Provider: Conservation Districts of Iowa

Who Can Apply: High School Seniors

Requirements: (a) Pursuing or planning to pursue a relevant career, (b) Residency in Iowa, (c) Entering college for the first time. For more information, please visit the scholarship website.

scholarships in iowa

Soon you’ll be able to apply to all of these on Going Merry (let us know in the comments section if there are others we should include). In the meantime, we already have thousands of scholarships which you can apply for directly.

Just fill out your profile, see what we match you with, and click apply! It’s that easy.

How To Apply for Scholarships: A Step-by-Step Guide

With the cost of universities rising higher each year, it might feel like the price of furthering your education is getting out of control. In fact, between 1988 and 2017, the cost of attending a public university increased by 213% and the cost of a private one by 129%. Even after taking inflation into account, attending college is much more expensive than in the past. Nowadays, students can expect to pay around $9,970 per year for a public university and $34,740 per year for a private university. Figuring out how to apply for scholarships can save you big bucks in the end.

When it comes to paying for college, scholarships are the best option. Not only is there a scholarship for nearly everything from being left-handed to showcasing your talents on the football field to being top in your class, but scholarships are basically free money (and what could be better than that?). When you receive a scholarship, the money is yours to keep and you never have to worry about paying it back.

While the application process can be enough to scare some less-motivated students away, it’s really not so bad if you know what you’re in for (plus, Going Merry can help make the process easier!). Whether you’re applying for scholarships for the first time as an incoming college freshman or just looking for some extra cash to get you through grad school, here’s our step-by-step guide on how to apply for scholarships:

Step 1: Get Out and Search


how to apply for scholarships

You can’t find what you don’t look for, right? So it should come as no surprise that the first step in this guide on how to apply for scholarships is that you need to go out (or go online) and search for one.

The first thing to do when beginning your search is to decide which types of scholarships you qualify for and which ones are right for you. While a huge range of scholarships exists, they can generally be split into need and merit-based.

Need-based scholarships depend on your or your family’s ability to pay for college and are only awarded to candidates who need a little extra help financially. Merit-based scholarships are awarded to applicants based on their achievements or abilities. They may be focused on academics, art, or athletics. There’s also a large range of situation-based scholarships, such as ones for women, minorities, journalism majors, or gamers. Both need and merit-based scholarships may be offered by your college, private organizations, or individuals.

Once you’ve come up with a general idea of which scholarships you might qualify for, you need to figure out where to look. The first step is to talk with a high school guidance counselor or the financial aid office at your university. Both will have experience finding scholarships that apply to your circumstances, while the financial aid office will also be able to tell you about university scholarships (you can usually find the most up-to-date information by checking out the financial aid or admissions section on the university website, too).

For some merit-based scholarships it’s also worth speaking to your teachers, e.g. if you’re looking for scholarships for French majors, chatting with your French teacher could be a great way to find them. If you have a knack for sports, it might also be helpful to speak to your high school coach! Universities with top-notch sports teams are usually willing to shell out a fair amount of money to get talented players to attend their schools.

Besides university-sponsored scholarships, there are thousands and thousands of privately-funded scholarships out there and various ways of finding them. Just like we mentioned above, the first search method is to sit down and discuss your options with a high school guidance counselor or a financial aid representative. Alternatively, a simple Google search generally turns up a fair amount of results as well.

However, in our opinion, the best way to find private scholarships is to use an online scholarship website. Going Merry, for example, helps you find and apply for scholarships all in one place. Simply create a profile and fill out your information. Based on the data you provide, Going Merry automatically matches you with scholarships you qualify for.

We save you the time of reading through various, boring scholarship descriptions and puzzling over which apply to you and which don’t. And we don’t stop there: we then allow you to apply directly to each scholarship, auto-filling your information as you do.

Step 2: Create a Calendar

how to apply for scholarships

When it comes to how to apply for scholarships, timing is key. It’s a good idea to begin applying as soon as possible…those deadlines really sneak up on you! From the start, make a list (whether in an Excel sheet or the vintage way with pen and paper), with the scholarships you’d like to apply for, their due dates, and their required documents and essays (Going Merry also has an estimate of the application time for each one).

Make sure to start your scholarship applications well in advance so that you’re not rushing to gather documents and materials.

Step 3: Figure Out the Requirements

Not all scholarships are created equal and it’s important to research the specific requirements for the scholarship you’re applying to. Luckily, scholarships are generally straightforward so everything you need will be listed out right in the description.

Here are the most common documents and materials needed for a scholarship application:

Scholarship Application Form 

It might be obvious, but a scholarship application without the application isn’t much of a scholarship application at all. Make sure to fill out the application portion thoroughly and double check for errors.


The essay portion of the application is your chance to shine. Even if you’re not a strong writer, it gives you the opportunity to express your personality, ideas, and opinions. You only have a certain amount of space and scholarship sponsors want to see how you’ll use it. Check down below for tips on how to turn your essay from a headache into your strong point.

how to apply for scholarships

Letters of Recommendation 

Most scholarships require Letters of Recommendation from personal or professional references. When requesting a LOR from professors, teachers, guidance counselors, or personal sources, make sure to give the person recommending you at least four weeks notice. The last thing you want is a rushed recommendation or a stressed-out recommender. For many students, asking for recommendations is the most stressful part when it comes to how to apply for scholarships.

Copies of Transcripts and Diplomas 

Even if a scholarship isn’t merit-based, it may require a copy of your high school, or most recent college, transcripts and your high school diploma. You can easily get transcript copies through your high school or university website or through the Guidance or Registrar’s Office. Occasionally, scholarship applications will also require your test scores from the SAT or ACT. Prepare yourself by keeping these test-taking tips in mind

Financial Aid Information 

Some scholarships, especially if they’re need-based, might require you to submit your FAFSA form or sometimes even your parents’ tax and income information along with your application.


An up-to-date and modern resume can make a big difference when it comes to applying for scholarships. Along with your essay, you should view your resume as one of the central pieces of your applicationwhere you can highlight your skills and accomplishments. If you’re looking to take your resume writing skills to the next level, try out these tips.


Sending a portfolio can significantly strengthen an application, especially for art and design-related majors. If you don’t have a portfolio and feel that you might need one, don’t sweat it. It’s not that difficult to get started if you take it step-by-step.

Step 4: Rock the Essay

how to apply for scholarships

As we mentioned above, the essay can make or break the application, so it’s important to give it the time and effort that it deserves. Even if you’re lacking confidence when it comes to your writing skills, following a few simple tips can help take your essay to the next level.

Essay Tip #1: Read the Instructions

So many amazingly written essays get tossed aside simply because the applicant didn’t take the time to read the directions and respond properly to the prompt. If you take anything at all from this guide on how to apply for scholarships, do yourself a favor and make sure you understand what you need to do before you pick up the pen.

Essay Tip #2: Give Yourself Time

When you give yourself sufficient time to write the essay, you’ll be less stressed, have more time to think through your ideas, and have more time for proofreading. Rushed essays are more likely to be filled with grammar and spelling errors and usually end up being pretty boring. Plan your time out beforehand.

Essay Tip #3: Find Your Own Path

When you apply for a scholarship, you’re responding to the same writing prompt as hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of other applicants. How can you make your essay stand out from the rest? What can you bring to it that nobody else can? Set some time aside simply to think over your strengths and to brainstorm ways to make your essay stand out.

Essay Tip #4: Create an Outline

An outline can help ensure that your essay is fluid and follows a logical sequence of events. Outlines don’t always need to be detailed, even just a basic one can help you organize your ideas!

Essay Tip #5: Liven It Up

Nobody wants to read a boring, lifeless essay…much less scholarship committees, who are reading hundreds of applications! Don’t be afraid to put your personality into your writing and let your passion show through. Big, fancy words aren’t necessary either and often do more harm than good.

Essay Tip #6: Proofread, Edit, Repeat

Taking five extra minutes to proofread your essay can make a world of difference. We’re all human and, whether we like it or not, we all make mistakes. Having the correct spelling and grammar will make your essay appear more professional.

Step 5: Submit Your Materials

how to apply for scholarships

Now that you’ve gathered all of your documents and materials, the next step on how to apply for scholarships is simply to turn them in! Some scholarships should be submitted by mail while others are submitted online, so be sure to check the requirements. If you requested any Letters of Recommendation, be sure that the person providing you with the recommendation is aware of the deadline. Also, provide them with either the email address or a stamped envelope with the correct destination address on it.

Step 6: Wait!

The last and final step in our guide on how to apply for scholarships is simply to wait and, realistically, there’s not much else you can do. Most scholarships will let you know when you can expect to hear back by. Some only contact the recipients.

After submitting your application, take a deep breath and relax. Keep a positive attitude and hope that your hard work paid off!


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