Today, I’ll discuss scholarship options to assist your high school student in paying for college. Let’s get this party started!
Okay, there are so many different types of scholarships. There are need-based scholarships for low-income families, merit-based scholarships for high achievers, community service scholarships for those who enjoy volunteering, athletic scholarships, hobby and extracurricular activity scholarships, scholarships for minorities or simply based on ancestry, employer scholarships for those who work where your student or you work, and military scholarships. First, you’ll want to sit down with your child and talk to them about how they may earn scholarships. It’s best to start doing this when your child is in middle school, but it may be too late for you. Here are some of the topics I’d like to discuss:
Your student must achieve the highest possible grades in order to be considered for scholarships. It could be a good idea to hire a tutor or something similar if they are having trouble with their academics.
- STUDENT PARTICIPATION
What I mean by this is STUDENT participation, meaning your kid needs to be committed to trying to find scholarships too – not just you as a parent. This isn’t something that you should be doing for them, that’s what I am trying to say.
- TIME STRATEGIES
They need to be strategic with their time. So this might mean joining clubs or organizations that are desirable by scholarship reviewers and they should also be trying for leadership positions inside those extracurricular activities.
Have your student interact with the colleges they are most interested in. so this could be via Facebook or Twitter. It might be an email, or just via the Internet contact form for that school. A lot of colleges track how often a student reaches out to them, and I am guessing they have some kind of software that does this. So your student could email the admissions office and just say something like, ‘Hey, I’m really interested in this college, can you send me a bunch of information?’ Then over the next few months, they can reach out anytime they have a question. And they can do it via social media; it doesn’t have to always be email. Doing things like that just helps build relationships, and it can be a big deal when it comes to acceptance, or even scholarships, to help pay.
Have them start a Pinnterest board, and you can do this too, just so all the scholarships you’re looking at are in one place. You can search Google for scholarships due in April, or whenever, and then add those to your Pinterest board. And actually Pinterest is a really good place to search for scholarships too. I would have them put all the broad scholarship links on Pinterest. And once they have narrowed down the ones they want to apply to, then I would start a Google sheet, like a Google spreadsheet, and just put the name of the scholarship and the due date, and of course the link for that scholarship.
- AREA SCHOOLS
Have them Google all the schools in your area and then just add the word scholarship after that. So this is going to be ‘Odessa high school scholarship’ or something like that. That should bring up the scholarships page for that high school. A lot of high schools list scholarship resources for that area, but those will be different than a nearby high school’s resource list, but since the region is the same, your high schooler is probably going to be able to apply to all those.
- LOCAL BUSINESSES
Have them call local businesses. So this is going to be like banks, insurance companies, farm implement companies, if they live in a farming area, and find out if they give out scholarships, or know of other businesses that have scholarships too.
I would also mention that they need to be very careful with what they put online. My mom actually sat down with me and coached me on this long before the internet even existed. She said “Don’t write anything down, whether it’s in a diary or in a note to a friend, or anywhere, unless you’re okay with everyone in the whole world seeing it, because they might someday”, and I think that’s good advice. It’s especially good advice now that the internet is a thing. If your kid is early in their high school career like a freshman or a sophomore, you can have them to do things to become eligible for more scholarships. They can join clubs and organizations or pursue hobbies, if you know there are scholarships for those things. Of course, you will want your kid to be interested in those. You as a parent can also join clubs and organizations too. Lots of local clubs like the American Legion, VFW, Rotary, Masons, those types of clubs give out scholarships to members’ children. Some of these have certain requirements that you might not be able to meet, like VFW- you have to be a veteran of a foreign war. But others might have ways to join that would make you eligible for your kid to get the scholarship, and the dues are pretty low for some of these. As far as scholarships go, there are really two types, the huge national scholarships that everyone knows about and are very competitive, and then the smaller, more local or obscure scholarships that a lot of people might not know about. As I said, the big ones are very competitive, but if your student has a 4.0, and leadership roles, volunteer work under their belt, they might have a shot at one of those. Most likely the best chance your student has is with scholarships that the school offers and local scholarships. You will definitely want to have them check with their high school guidance counselor to find the local scholarships. And some colleges have really great scholarships, just based on metrics. The university I went to gave a full tuition scholarship to anyone who got at least a 28 on their ACT, and then were either the top 5% of their high school class, or got at least a 3.75 GPA. But you know, that was quite a long time ago. So just check what the university is offering. As far as scholarships go, it’s also a good idea to have your student check with the individual program at the university to see if they have scholarships available. Usually they can apply to these program-specific scholarships right when they apply, or just after they get accepted. Applying to scholarships is a ton of work, but it can mean going to school for FREE instead of doing student loans. You can also apply for scholarships all the way through college. My very good friend was awarded a scholarship her sophomore year after finding out about it from her old high school guidance counselor.
About scholarship essays: so many scholarships require essays that it can be a good idea to make kind of a scholarship ‘template’. This can include all of your students’ greatest accomplishments, clubs and activities, career goals, things like that. And then you can fine-tune that scholarship essay to whatever scholarship they are applying for. Another requirement for a lot of scholarships is a letter of reference, so it’s a good idea to have a few people lined up with a letter of reference so you can just easily call upon them when they are needed. This could be like the adult who’s in charge of a club that your kid is in, a teacher, a pastor, or even someone who’s, you know, a boss or someone like that. Now as I said before, all this scholarship stuff is a ton of work, but it can really pay off. Let’s say your student spent five hours applying to 12 scholarships, and let’s say they ended up getting one of those for a payout of $1,000. That means that they made $200 an hour, if you want to break it down to an hourly rate. That’s pretty damn good when you compare it to $11 an hour they might even be making at a fast food restaurant. So these are a few ways that you can find and increase your chances of getting scholarships.